I am not a rich man, but I’m rich in content subscriptions. I pay for ad-free Hulu. I pay for YouTube Red. I have Twitch Prime, and before that, I had Twitch Turbo. I pay for Spotify.
Basically, I hate ads, and if you have content I enjoy and you additionally offer me an ad-free experience for a reasonable monthly cost (let’s say $10 or so), then I will gladly tell you my credit card number.
Sadly, the entire world has not adjusted to my preferences. When I watch Hulu with my roommates on their TV, I see ads. When a friend shows me a must-see YouTube video, I see ads. When I’m at a party and the host is playing her party’s bespoke Spotify playlist, I hear ads.
But when I gather with my fellow New York Excelsior fans in Ridgewood, Queens, to watch a Twitch stream of the Overwatch League, I don’t see ads, because the venue uses my Twitch login.
In fact, whenever possible, I try to fix the ads-in-the-world problem by sharing my precious logins widely and recklessly.
It’s not an ideal situation.
Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge
For instance, sharing my Spotify login with one of my roommates has really bit me in the ass. My Tinder profile shows which Spotify artists I listen to the most. So he put The Wiggles on repeat when I wasn’t paying attention. (Spotify only allows your account to play one thing at a time, and I guess I was busy that month listening to Taylor Swift on Apple Music.) So now, my Tinder profile proclaims to the world that I’m a major Wiggles fan. It’s not exactly the first impression I’m looking to make.
Algorithm disruption used to be a big problem with Netflix sharing as well, but now Netflix solves this by offering multiple profiles. I share my Netflix profile with my parents, and they’ve been very conscientious so far: Netflix has yet to recommend a single Hallmark movie to me.
Here’s what I’m proposing: through the magic of software and hardware, make me the patron saint of zero ads. Wherever I go, my profligate subscription spending allows me to share my ad-free status with friends on a temporary basis, without actually having to share my logins.
Let’s say I walk into a party and I hear a horrible Spotify ad. I walk over to the aux station and ask politely if I can fix it.
”Sure,” says the host. “Also, thank you for coming to my party, Paul. You’re a great person.”
She opens up Spotify on her phone and presses the “Premium Party Mode” button. Spotify prompts her to sign up for Spotify Premium or ask a party guest with Spotify Premium to authorize.
I’m that party guest.
I hold up my phone to her phone, and through the magic of NFC I authorize three hours of ad-free listening.
Think of how great this would be for Spotify. It gives the company a great opportunity to upsell its non-paying customers and give them a demo of the ad-free life. Plus, it removes the ill will people feel toward Spotify when an ad comes on during a party and ruins the mood.
And I come out looking amazing. Next time there’s a party, everyone’s like: “Be sure to invite Paul. He has Spotify Premium. His eternal crusade against ads is likely to succeed. He is also good at conversations and occasionally brings snacks.”
Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge
In this new world I’m designing, I can upgrade my roommates to Hulu No Commercials for the hour or so we’re watching TV together, and then as soon as I leave the room, they can suffer in the ad-filled nightmare they’ve chosen to live in. I can stop sounding like a rich asshole every time I complain about the ad breaks, and potentially over time, they’ll start to value me so much as a viewing companion that they’ll listen to my suggestions about what we should watch.
My phone can become a magic wand that erases advertisements wherever they occur. I will simultaneously spread joy and time-saving across the world, while also evangelizing the benefits of paying for entertainment with dollars instead of with time.
This is going to be great. We’re going to have so much fun.
Please invite me to parties.