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YouTube related videos

Youtube related videos – end of an era?

Youtube has changed it’s policy with displaying related videos at the end of our video. Why is this happening and what can we do? Read on

YouTube is the largest video streaming site in the world. It’s also the second largest search engine (after Google of course). Being the site that it is, YouTube is very popular for business and personal use. Almost everyone has uploaded a video to YouTube, it’s an excellent way to highlight our services, products and promotions. And it’s great for conversion rates too.

YouTube related Videos

It works like this: we shoot a short video, upload it to our YouTube channel, and from there we embed the video via the embedding code supplied by YouTube into our site. Or, it you are using WordPress as your CMS (Content Management System) like me, just copy the video’s URL and paste it in the editor. that is, all the work is done for you.
And on YouTube’s side –
YouTube wants the most users to watch as many videos on their site, so they will be exposed to lots of commercials, where YouTube makes it’s money from (monetization). So, at the end of each video YouTube automatically serves us Related Videos.  As the name suggests, these are videos that are related in some way to the video we just watched. They could be related to the video by subject, content, channel etc…
But, sometimes we don’t want our users to see related videos at the end of our video even if it’s our own or our competitors (for gods sake…), that is why YouTube enabled us to add a parameter at the end of the video’s URL that will disallow the display of related videos. The result: the video ends and rewinds back to it’s starting point. The code looks like this:

Adding rel=0 to the URL tells YouTube not to display related videos at the end. And YouTube respected that.

Today, when we add the rel=0 parameter, related videos will be displayed. Here is the same video from the URL above, embedded in this page. Go to the almost end of the video and see that related videos are displayed.

What has changed?

YouTube announced that they will stop supporting rel=0 from the 25th of September 2018. Before the change, if we did add the rel=0 parameter the player did not display related videos. After this change, if the value is 0, the player will display related videos from the same channel. That’s a problem. Why? If we set the value to 0 the player will display related videos (even if from our own channel), but clikcing on one of the related videos will redirect the user from our site (where the video was embedded) to the YouTube site. There the user is in YouTube’s hands and the chances for the user to come back to our site, perform a purchase, send a lead or send a contact form are reduced dramatically.

The behavior for the rel parameter is changing on or after September 25, 2018. The effect of the change is that you will not be able to disable related videos. However, you will have the option of specifying that the related videos shown in the player should be from the same channel as the video that was just played.

YouTube Player API Release Notes – August 23, 2018

Why is this happening?

I don’t work for YouTube nor do I have internal information, but this is part of a whole grander move of Google’s services being monetized.

  1. YouTube  recently introduced a paid option for it’s streaming service – YouTube Premium, it’s mainly about streaming video without ads, offline access and their special content. Nothing to do with player modifications.
  2. Google maps recently announced that the use of their maps API will need a credit card on file. Even if the threshold for map usage for small / medium sites if big, still they are asking for your credit card.
  3. Remember when  Google Apps for Business was free? You would sign up and get 50(!) free email boxes to use with your domain. Today, it’s 5$ per month, per user.

So I suspect that more and more services, today free, will start costing money. I don’t think that this is a bad thing, paying for a service helps the product’s / service’s continuance, development and support. But we have to get ready for this.

What can we do?

There are some YouTube alternatives that allow us to play, stream and embed video. Vimeo is one of them. Like YouTube you can upload and stream your videos. Vimeo has premium subscriptions which allows it’s users to customize, manage and protect your videos. Their plans start at a few dollars per month. If content and display of your videos is important to you and your brand – check them out.
Another option worth checking is Wistia.

Another alternative is to upload the video to our site and not rely on streaming services. This may be a good option for one or two videos, but for the long run, the server running our site is not a streaming server and will not stream videos in an optimal way. We also lose exposure of our video because it’s not on popular video sites like YouTube and Vimeo, there might also be SEO loses here too.

Currently, if your videos are on YouTube,embedded in your site and displaying related videos that you don’t really want, I suggest going over to your video channel and checking that each video has a good description, call to action and link back to your web page. So, even if users are ejected from your site when clicking on a related video, they still get a chance to read about you, your business and have a link back to your site. This is good practice anyway.

A little trick you can do (not really suggested): if you just have one video in your channel and you added rel=0 to you video’s URL, YouTube will not display any related videos, since you don’t have anymore videos to show. I don’t know how much time this hack will last…


YouTube (and Google) are changing their policy regarding free services and we are seeing it across the board and also with this little feature. Down the road I believe there will be more changes that we will be charged for when using their service. Internet has grown a bit from it’s baby phase and to get good service, we know we must pay. We have to be ready for this and allocate funds for these services.

Happy Tubing!

If you have any insights on this topic, I would love to have you comment below, Thanks!

Update May 2019: There is a premium plugin to deal with this issue, I haven’t tested it, but you can take a look at it here:

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