YouTube appears to be testing making people pay in order to watch videos in 4K resolution by upgrading to YouTube Premium

YouTube appears to be testing making people pay in order to watch videos in 4K resolution by upgrading to YouTube Premium
Screenshot of a Casey Neistat YouTube video with 4K resolution selected from the video quality menu.YouTube
  • YouTube might be testing making 4K streaming a paid YouTube Premium feature.
  • 4K is currently free for all users, but people on Twitter and Reddit said YouTube was asking them to upgrade.

YouTube appears to be running a test on some of its users that removes the 4K video resolution option as a free offering and instead makes it a feature you have to pay for.

People on Reddit and Twitter posted screenshots showing the 4K option, which is usually free to all users, as a YouTube Premium feature, as TechCrunch first reported. To use YouTube Premium, which includes features like ad-free viewing and the ability to download videos and songs, users have to subscribe. In the US, a YouTube Premium subscription costs $11.99 each month, though YouTube often offers free trials.

A YouTube spokesperson did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment ahead of publication, but YouTube's official support Twitter account, TeamYouTube, replied to a user asking about the 4K option.

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"it looks like your part of our experiment to know better the feature preferences Premium & non-Premium viewers," TeamYouTube tweeted.

TeamYouTube went on to tell users to share their thoughts about its features so the company could "make improvements."


It's important to note that YouTube often tests tweaks or changes to features, and there's no official word yet on the scope of any test related to paywalling 4K resolution and whether it is still ongoing. Not every test results in a product change.

That being said, if YouTuber were to eventually paywall 4K resolution, it could help increase the subscriber base of Premium and drive more subscription revenue.

Last September, YouTube announced it had reached over 50 million subscribers to YouTube Premium and YouTube Music, a small percentage of its over 2 billion users around the world.