YouTube is testing making 4K videos only available for YouTube Premium subscribers. According to multiple reports on Reddit (via 9to5Google), some users now see a “Premium” label under the 2160p (4K) quality option, with a “Tap to ugrade” message for testers who don’t already have a Premium subscription.
The experiment seems to have been going on for at least a month, with the first Reddit post about this in early September. 4K quality on YouTube has been available for free for many years now, but the platform also supports the intermediate 1440p quality, which is already better than 1080p.
Sign up for our new free newsletter to get three time-saving tips each Friday — and get free copies of Paul Thurrott's Windows 11 and Windows 10 Field Guides (normally $9.99) as a special welcome gift!
"*" indicates required fields
It’s not clear if Google is currently testing this change with a lot of users, but the company may encounter a lot of pushback for restricting 4K quality behind a paywall. However, the change may drive more people to subscribe to YouTube Premium, which removes all ads on the platform and offers other perks such as YouTube Music, background listening on mobile, and a download option for videos.
YouTube is the most popular video platform in the world with 500+ hours of new content uploaded every minute. Even though not all videos are available in 4K quality, the costs to run a platform like YouTube are undoubtedly going up at a regular pace. That’s probably why some free YouTube users are now seeing up to 10 unskippable ads in a row.
Google has yet to share anything specific about making 4K videos a YouTube Premium perk. Anyway, there’s still a possibility that something we all took for granted may eventually require a Premium subscription.