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YouTube considering locking 4K videos behind its Premium subscription (Update)

Google is looking at making 4K videos exclusive to YouTube Premium.

Published onOctober 17, 2022

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  • YouTube was testing out requiring a Premium subscription for 4K and higher resolutions.
  • People in Google’s experimental group who were non-subscribers were seeing Premium appear next to the 2160p option.
  • This would have added a new perk for YouTube Premium while taking away something that’s currently free for all users.

Update: October 17, 2022 (03:00 PM ET)YouTube has revealed in a statement from its TeamYouTube Twitter account that the company has stopped its experiment. It also confirmed that all users should have access to the 4K resolution again. You can read more here.

Google has been trying hard to get YouTube viewers to subscribe to its Premium subscription. While this has mostly come in the form of pushing more ads — both skippable and unskippable — the company seems to be testing out a new strategy. This new strategy could see 4K and higher resolutions locked behind its paywall.

Over the last month, pictures have started to pop up across Reddit showing a new feature for YouTube Premium — 4K video. It appears that Google is currently testing the idea of making its 4K resolution option exclusive for subscribers. Those who are in Google’s experimental group are reporting that they are seeing the word Premium next to the 2160p option when looking to select a new resolution.

YouTube introduced 4K videos on its platform over a decade ago and subsequently provided an 8K option later on as the resolution standards became more ubiquitous. However, up to now, 4K and higher resolutions have been something that was free for all users. If YouTube deems this test a success and decides to implement the change in the future, it would simultaneously add a new perk for subscribers while taking something away from non-subscribers.

This wouldn’t exactly be unheard of for YouTube, however. In fact, the company separates HD and 4K content into different tiers for YouTube TV subscribers. This move would make YouTube more closely aligned with the company’s YouTube TV model. Google also locked 4K resolution behind its Pro subscription for Stadia, which will be shutting down soon.

Would you be more likely to subscribe to YouTube Premium if Google made this change? Let us know in the poll below.

Would you sign up for YT Premium just for 4K streams?

1071 votes

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