Google is quietly testing a new charge on YouTube? New information leaked

YouTube has supported 4K videos since 2010, years before the resolution format became commonplace, allowing the service to be more futureproof.

by Faruk Imamovic
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Google is quietly testing a new charge on YouTube? New information leaked

For a small number of people, Google is currently testing a change to YouTube Premium that would make 4K videos unavailable to free users. YouTube has supported 4K videos since 2010, years before the resolution format became commonplace, allowing the service to be more futureproof.

In the 12 years since then, 4K videos — and even higher resolutions like 8K, introduced to the platform in 2015 — have been freely available to be viewed by all YouTube fans. According to multiple reports [1, 2] across Reddit over the past month, YouTube has been testing a change to that status quo.

For those in Google’s experiment group, when selecting a specific resolution for a video, non-subscribers members will see the word “Premium” next to the option for 4K/2160p. Simply put, the experiment adds a new restriction to free users of YouTube while simultaneously serving as a new “perk” of YouTube Premium.

As it stands today, the YouTube Premium subscription removes advertising from the platform, lets you play videos in the background on Android, and even download videos to watch offline. The subscription also bundles Google’s music streaming service YouTube Music.

This would mark the first time that YouTube locked higher quality of video like 4K behind its Premium subscription. In some ways, it’s actually reminiscent of the (soon to be shut down) Stadia Pro subscription, which enabled players to try Stadia games in up to 4K with HDR colors and 5.1 surround sound.

In all likelihood, the new restriction on 4K videos is probably only being tested with a small group of users in order to obtain feedback on the change. A similar style of change happened just last month, when YouTube tested putting as many as 10 unskippable ads into a video’s break. Depending on the feedback received, Google may decide against limiting 4K videos to YouTube Premium.

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