YouTube has been testing a new limitation for 4K videos. People included in the test revealed that the service requires users to upgrade to the YouTube Premium plan to watch videos in 2160p or 4K resolution. Currently, there is no such restriction to stream videos in 4K on the platform.
Launched in November 2014, YouTube Premium offers an ad-free streaming experience on mobile, tablet, desktop, and TV sets, offline download, background play to enjoy uninterrupted video playback, and access to Music Premium for $12 per month or $120 per year.
Last year, the company reported that Music and Premium had surpassed the 50 million subscribers milestone driven by the power of its diverse content.
[Update: YouTube has confirmed that it has ended the experiment to paywall 4K videos behind Premium membership.]
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
— TeamYouTube (@TeamYouTube) October 17, 2022
Google plans to push users toward YouTube Premium by locking 4K videos
After testing the video downloads on the web, the platform recently also began testing the new “Pinch to zoom” feature for Premium subscribers. Maybe to increase the platform’s subscription and revenue bases, Google wants to wall 4K video streaming behind Premium membership.
However, the scope of the test is unknown and it can not be speculated with certainty which devices and regions it is beings tested in. But the intent to push users toward the PRemium plan is clear.
Last year, Google began testing a cheaper YouTube Premium Lite in Europe to offer ad-free content with offline download capability for an affordable price but without Music Premium. The plan has not been introduced yet.
It is also reported that Picture-in-Picture support for YouTube on iOS would be coming soon.