YouTube Ends Experiment Placing 4K Videos Behind Premium Paywall
YouTube users are able to see clearly once again, as the company has announced it is ending its experiment of making 4K videos available only to YouTube Premium members.
Before the test, 4K videos uploaded to YouTube were available for free to all users. However, as recently as this weekend, the ability to view those videos had been placed behind the platform’s Premium paywall. similarly, YouTube also offers a 4K upgrade to its live TV streaming service YouTube TV, which costs $19.99 per month on top of the base subscription for the first year. But this was the first time that YouTube’s traditional ad-supported video-on-demand (AVOD) service had walled off high-resolution videos for paying customers only.
YouTube Premium does not stream live TV as YouTube TV does, but it allows users to watch videos ad-free, play them when using other apps, download videos to watch offline, and includes access to YouTube Music Premium. After a free, one-month trial, the plan costs $11.99 per month.
A user on Reddit noticed in the first week of October that a video that they were watching restricted the 2160p version behind the YouTube Premium paywall, meaning that they could only watch it at the highest quality by signing up for the streamer’s paid tier. That experiment ran all the way until Oct. 16, when the company announced it had discontinued its restrictions on 4K videos.
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
It will bear watching to see what conclusions YouTube draws from its experiment. If it saw a big surge in subscribers to YouTube Premium, the company will likely bring the paywall for higher resolution videos back to stay. The company is certainly not likely to reject monetizing customers who are willing to pay.
On the other hand, if YouTube saw discouraging numbers from the attempt to get free users to upgrade for better-resolution videos, it may decide to drop the price of its 4K add-on for Premium members. $14.99 per month is more than the cost of many streaming services, and that price jumps to $19.99 per month after the first year.
The biggest problem for YouTube in charging that amount is that often, content from providers is not available in 4K. In May, the streamer had to backtrack on plans to air its Major League Baseball Game of the Week in 4K after deciding that “the experience was not ready for our users.”
YouTube TV did eventually add the feature a few weeks later, but it has become a regular waiting game for cord-cutting sports fans who have to wait to see whether or not their games will be in 4K each week or not.
Only time will tell if YouTube’s latest experiment in monetizing higher-resolution video will bring further efforts in that direction, or will cause the company to pull back and reassess. For now, all users will have access to free 4K videos on the platform once again.
YouTube TV is a live TV streaming service with more than 60 channels for $72.99/month. This plan includes local channels, 32 of the top 35 cable channels, and regional sports networks (RSNs) in select markets. The service includes an unlimited DVR.
With the recent addition of Viacom channels (BET, MTV, Comedy Central, etc.) to the service, they are only without Hallmark and A+E Networks (Lifetime, History, A&E).
They recently added NFL Network and new Sports Plus add-on which include channels like NFL RedZone for $11 a month.
YouTube TV offers select 4K content, including some live sports and on-demand shows, as part of their 4K Plus add-on. The 4K Plus add-on is $9.99 a month and also includes offline downloads and unlimited streams on your home network.
If you want a cheaper service with many of the entertainment channels on YouTube TV, you can subscribe to Philo which includes A+E, Discovery, Viacom, Hallmark, and other channels for just $20 a month after a 7-Day Free Trial.