YouTube ends trial that restricted 4K content to its Premium subscription service

midian182

Posts: 8,493   +105
Staff member
In context: YouTube's controversial experiment in which it restricted 4K content to its $12-per-month Premium service has come to an end. What conclusion Google drew from the test is unknown—it appears to be still gathering feedback–so there's no guarantee the resolution will remain accessible on the platform indefinitely.

Earlier this month, users on Reddit and YouTube started posting screenshots of the 2160p/4K resolution option for YouTube videos showing as a feature available only to YouTube Premium subscribers. It was theorized that Google was looking to make 4K content another benefit of its $12 pm/$120 per year service, which lacks the ads found on the free version of YouTube and comes with the music streaming service YouTube Music.

YouTube has offered 4K videos for over a decade and even has an 8K option where available, so removing resolutions above 1440p was always going to cause a backlash. According to an official YouTube Twitter account (spotted by 9to5Google), the experiment has now ended, meaning those few users who had been unable to see 4K on YouTube should again be able to access the resolution.

Responding to a user tweet about 4K being limited to YouTube Premium, TeamYouTube wrote, "we've fully turned off this experiment. viewers should now be able to access 4K quality resolutions without Premium membership. we're here if you have other q's"

It's unclear whether YouTube ended this trial prematurely due to the amount of pushback it received or if the experiment ran its course. Interestingly, a tweet in Japanese from Team YouTube included a link for users to give their opinions on locking 4K content behind the YouTube Premium service.

Whether Google decides the new users it could attract to YouTube Premium looking for 4K videos would outweigh the outrage is unknown. It's unlikely that people would boycott the platform in significant numbers—the latest Steam survey shows that few participants have 4K monitors, though plenty watch it on 4K/HDR smart TVs. As always, corporate decisions like these ultimately tend to come down to money, sadly. One also has to wonder if Google could decided to make other YouTube features, such as 60fps or HDR, Premium-only.

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Phylop

Posts: 61   +54
Even if you only have a 1080p display the 1440p/4K video streaming options look a lot better because the bitrate for 1080p and lower is pretty shitty.
 

James Ryan

Posts: 37   +75
Even if you only have a 1080p display the 1440p/4K video streaming options look a lot better because the bitrate for 1080p and lower is pretty shitty.
Exactly. I default all videos to 4k for that exact reason. The only place it doesn't really matter is on a phone screen. I hope creators just stop making 4k content in protest and drop back to 1440p as a max.
 

George Keech

Posts: 265   +458
Exactly. I default all videos to 4k for that exact reason. The only place it doesn't really matter is on a phone screen. I hope creators just stop making 4k content in protest and drop back to 1440p as a max.
Would the best option then not be actually change the bitrate of the lower quality videos?
 

eforce

Posts: 1,048   +1,509
I'll consider premium when YouTube stop being politically partisan/censoring people.

In the mean time if they do roll this out for everyone, content creators could respond by only placing high res content on their Patreon sites.
 

Theinsanegamer

Posts: 3,959   +7,014
I'll consider premium when YouTube stop being politically partisan/censoring people.

In the mean time if they do roll this out for everyone, content creators could respond by only placing high res content on their Patreon sites.
The best solution would be to host that 4k content off of youtube, somewhere where the bitrate isnt atrocious, and use youtube to steer people there instead. Youtube will get the message sooner or later.
 

hwertz

Posts: 212   +124
I'm not too concerned about 4k. But the ads -- guess what? Some ads are fine. But if I'm going to watch like a 3 minute video, and you are trying to push 1:30 in ads (WHICH I HAVE SEEN THEM DO)... those ads will be skipped and if they're non-skippable the whole window will be closed. Just be careful! This is what has killed broadcast and cable television, it's almost unwatchable now that a typical "half hour" show is down to 18 minutes (meaning a full 12 minutes -- 40% -- ads.)
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 9,363   +8,581
It's sad to see YouTube get worse and worse. You can hardly watch a 2 min video without half a dozen commercials in it and unless I'm mistaken, the up-loaders have no control over what or how many commercials are jammed into their video's .....
 

kiwigraeme

Posts: 1,400   +1,040
Even if you only have a 1080p display the 1440p/4K video streaming options look a lot better because the bitrate for 1080p and lower is pretty shitty.

Kind of weird - as you would think google could show 1080p better than google can in YT on your PC .

I have Pot player on my PC - never really studied it - but you can tweak the filters etc to your hearts content - WRT to power of cpu etc
Modern TVs with HDR+ and DV dark etc can still mess up profiles - so need tweaking for each TV brand

Saying that top pirate encoders take 4k movies and do a great job converting to 1080p
 

Slappy McPhee

Posts: 257   +162
I'll consider premium when YouTube stop being politically partisan/censoring people.

In the mean time if they do roll this out for everyone, content creators could respond by only placing high res content on their Patreon sites.

My main reason other than the egregious amount of ads at this point is that YTP does give content creators a better kickback per my understanding.
 

Avro Arrow

Posts: 3,392   +4,405
I honestly don't care. I've tried watching YouTube videos at 4K and found myself switching back and forth between 1080p, 1440p and 2160p without seeing a significant difference. I just said "screw it" and fixed my resolution at 1080p because it's less stress on my system and uses less electricity.

If YouTube takes 4K away, I'm quite sure that we'll all live happily ever after regardless.
 
It's sad to see YouTube get worse and worse. You can hardly watch a 2 min video without half a dozen commercials in it and unless I'm mistaken, the up-loaders have no control over what or how many commercials are jammed into their video's .....
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