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Some YouTube TV Subscribers Fuming Over DVR Feature, Force-Fed Ads

Phillip Dampier May 1, 2018 Competition, Consumer News, Online Video, YouTube TV 13 Comments

YouTube TV customers attracted by unlimited storage DVR service are now discovering their recorded shows have been temporarily replaced with an on-demand version loaded with unskippable advertising.

In late April, YouTube TV dramatically increased the number of shows that cannot be viewed using DVR service. Instead, viewers are pointed to the on-demand version instead, even when a customer records the show using YouTube’s unlimited storage DVR service. Some customers who pay $40 a month for YouTube TV don’t appreciate what they consider a “bait and switch” DVR that raids their library of recorded shows and puts them off-limits in favor of an alternative version littered with ads one cannot skip.

Customers may not have noticed the gradual increase in the number of ads-included, on-demand shows until recently when YouTube TV started restricting the option of watching an ad-skippable DVR recording instead. Now it is the on-demand (VoD) version or nothing in many cases, at least for the first month or so after a show airs.

“I never had trouble watching DVR versions of programs from NBC, USA, FX, FOX, etc. several days — if not weeks — after recording them. Even if there was a VoD version available,” noted Daw Johnson. “As of last week, the service has completely changed. Roughly 16 hours after the program airs live, you completely lose access to recordings on shows from any of those networks. You’re 100% forced to watch the VoD version (with ads).”

How YouTube TV is marketed.

Each network seems to handle advertising differently. CBS is notorious for loading as many as 20 ads per hour, while some shows on ABC don’t include any ads at all. Some ads are 15 seconds long, others — especially pushing prescription drugs, can run much longer.

Some customers feel YouTube TV has misled them about its DVR service, noting it was sold as an unlimited service:

You can record as many programs as you want at the same time, without ever running out of storage space. We’ll even keep each recording for 9 months. Stream from your library anywhere in the U.S.

But in reality, because of YouTube’s own desire to increase advertising revenue and thanks to agreements with certain programmers, DVR service is becoming more restricted on current shows, and a growing number of older titles airing on cable networks are likely to see mandatory ads creep in as well as YouTube starts selling ad time itself.

“Many networks provide recent episodes of shows, movies, and more on demand. If you’ve recorded a program that’s available on demand at the time you’re watching, in some cases the on demand version will be played back instead of your recording. You typically cannot fast-forward through video on demand ads,” the company explained.

This week, YouTube unveiled a brand new effort to integrate the Google video ads platform into the YouTube TV experience, opening up plenty of new advertising opportunities for companies that want to target YouTube TV customers and be assured viewers cannot fast forward past their ads.

Now Google’s advertisers can target video ads at YouTube TV customers.

“Content from some cable networks in the U.S. will be part of Google Preferred lineups so that brands can continue to engage their audience across all platforms,” said Debbie Weinstein, managing director of YouTube/Video Global Solutions. “This means advertisers will be able to get both the most popular YouTube content and traditional TV content in a single campaign – plus, we’ll dynamically insert these ads, giving advertisers the ability to show relevant ads to the right audiences, rather than just showing everyone the same ad as they might on traditional TV.”

That is likely to mean an exponential increase in GEICO ads.

None of this should be a surprise, if subscribers reviewed the terms and conditions of service when they signed up. In March, 2017, we warned would-be customers the service would insert forced advertising into the DVR experience. YouTube TV isn’t likely to be the only streaming service that will start pushing mandatory advertising into DVR recordings. TV executives want to establish a precedent for forced advertising on the cord-cutting streaming marketplace.

“While it isn’t possible to put the DVR genie back in the bottle for traditional cable customers, TV networks are hopeful they can train viewers to expect ads at least in on-demand, current-season shows they stream,” reported the Wall Street Journal in 2017.

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Daniel Mills
Guest

You should really check your facts and look at the app before complaining about it. Yes they urge you to the VOD version of the shows, but you can access the DVR versions if you desire. If you have added a show to your library so it gets recorded when you go to view it you can find the episode and next to it is a downwards pointing carret. If you tap that it expands to show the episode description and just below it is a list of options for the show where you can select the VOD or any… Read more »

Andrew Junk
Guest
Andrew Junk

We paid Cable $30+ per month for Network “over air 1-13 free tv” essentially paying for transmission of broadcast. Now with YouTube TV we get access to more sports and second tier networks Without an online channel guide. We are still paying $30+/month AND are paying Cable fees for transmission. IMO YouTube is double dipping and the ads during movies brings me to dump the idea of watching a movie and go straight to Netflix. Yes 6 users is a feature, but my kids can watch what we record as a family. Fast forwarding or skip an ad after 5… Read more »

Rob Frawley 2nd
Guest

This is entirely wrong. While *many* networks allow the behavior you are describing (manual choice between the DVR and VOD versions of episodes), others do not. The *latter* situation is what this article describes, and it is quite literally my least favorite “feature” of a service I otherwise generally enjoy.

See https://photos.app.goo.gl/jojj9x633gLfpaTv6 for an example from my own home today.

Freddie
Guest
Freddie

Not true Daniel. Although some will allow the choice, most will restrict viewing to VOD with adds. NBC is the worst. You can use the DVR is the show is still airing, but changes almost immediately to VOD only. Although I love my youtube tv, the new recording feature of Directv Now does not force you to VOD version (at least not yet). It may be the feature that forces me to go to go back.

JT NYC
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JT NYC

I decided to pay for YouTube TV because it costs the same as the electrical cost of running my homebuilt DVR (windows PC) 24×7, and provides more functionality. However, I REFUSE to be force-fed adverts. If I cannot skip ads for the few TV shows I care to watch, I will cancel my subscription. Make no mistake, there are many thousands of subscribers who will not go back to having 18 to 20 minutes out of every hour wasted with adverts.

jekk
Guest
jekk

Exactly. Especially when those shows are almost always released on a different streaming service in time and are often uploaded to the internet shortly after. Televised advertisements are the past and the generation of the 90s on won’t accept paying for 3 minutes of nonsense for every 10 minutes of showtime. F**k ads.

liveTexas
Guest
liveTexas

What’s the Big Deal here, y’all? Watching TV on Cable, Satellite or Other Independent sources ALL have ads to view a program. Why the Fuss , no, MADNESS!, over a couple of ads, (with Timers included!)? It STILL does NOT compare with buying Cable from the aforementioned providers with 3 minutes of ads every 10 minutes per show you’re watching. The PAID channels do NOT include ads, as usual. YouTube TV (Including it’s YouTube Red service that’s Included Gratis) is Fantastic for my household’s needs and those I’ve Shared it with [as mentioned, a total viewer count of 6 (… Read more »

N
Guest
N

No big deal,?!! Well, I don’t know about you or others in this forum, however I simply do not have the time 2 watch much TV, nor am I inclined to waste 20 minutes out of an hour watching commercials. I have a life. I work I take care of my health, my family, and if I have to spend 20 minutes out of each hour that I watch TV just wasting time dot-dot. I’ll just pass on the show. There are TV shows that I enjoy watching, but I simply don’t have the patience or time to watch them… Read more »

N
Guest
N

This site would not allow me to edit my first posting. I have some I corrected it and I’m reposting now. Please excuse my last post / my first post. Revised an edited post: No big deal,?!! Well, I don’t know about you or others in this forum, however I simply do not have the time 2 watch much TV, nor am I inclined to waste 20 minutes out of an hour watching commercials. I have a life. I work I take care of my health, my family, and if I have to spend 20 minutes out of each hour… Read more »

Travis DeGraw
Guest
Travis DeGraw

Company drone

Dan DiCioccio
Guest
Dan DiCioccio

I know I am a year late, but this is STILL an issue. I think what you are missing here is that the thing we are all trying to replace, Cable (and for most people the DVR that came with it) allowed us to skip commercials no matter when we watched it. I will go BACK to cable and pay that money in order to NOT be forced to watch commercials, because my time is worth that. Sooner or later a live streaming and DVR service will come along and figure out how to offer this and it will win… Read more »

Joe
Guest
Joe

liveTexas, how much did YouTube pay you for that ridiculous post?

Eve Hunt
Guest

I am constantly searching online for ideas that can facilitate me. Thanks!

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