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Watching longer YouTube clips on TV could get less annoying

Unless you’ve ponied up for YouTube Premium, you’ll be pretty used to advertisements sapping your enjoyment of the best content.

On smart TV apps the ad experience can be particularly jarring with those very regular commercial breaks coming on a device where you’re less inclined to put up with them. Even with ads that are skippable after a few seconds, it means picking up the remote, directing it to the skip button and putting it down. Whereas the phone or tablet is usually already in your hand and you can tap skip easily.

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Another annoyance is not knowing how long these ads are going to be, or how much time is remaining. So, with all that in mind, Google is switching things up in the hope you won’t just leave the YouTube smart TV apps altogether.

The company says ads breaks will be less frequent with more ads grouped together. That could make it less annoying than the current state of play, which is often short interruptions but at multiple intervals during the film.

“Viewers expect a different ad experience depending on the content they are watching. When it comes to long-form content on TV screens, 79% of viewers would prefer video ads that are grouped together instead of distributed throughout a video,” Google says in a blog post.

“Based on this preference, we are evaluating new options that minimise average interruptions for viewers, such as fewer, longer ad breaks, to create a more seamless viewing experience on the big screen.”

A similar rationale applies to the time remaining in those ad breaks. The company adds: “Our research shows a majority of viewers prefer knowing the total time remaining in the ad break versus the number of ads being served. We’ll begin testing this updated [Connected] TV ad experience soon, by putting an easier way to help viewers gauge the length of an ad break front and centre.”

The experimental features come after YouTube found people are actually spending more time watching videos on the platform, despite the incursion of YouTube Shorts. Google says 65% of connected TV viewers in the US watch videos that are 21 minutes or longer.

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