Last year Google added an extra fee for YouTube TV subscribers trying to stream TV in 4K, and now it looks like the company could be ready to do the same for regular videos on YouTube itself.
Over the last several weeks, we’ve seen various reports on Reddit and Twitter that some users cannot watch YouTube videos and clips in 4K unless they’re premium subscribers. Basically, YouTube may soon put 4K videos behind a paywall and start charging a subscription to access videos in the highest quality option.
So, after testing up to 12 ads on YouTube for non-Premium users, now some users reported that they also have to get a Premium account just to watch videos in 4K. pic.twitter.com/jJodoAxeDp
— Alvin (@sondesix) October 1, 2022
We’re not sure if this is a limited test in specific regions or what devices are seeing the change. I tested this myself on a PC, MacBook Pro, and a 4K smart TV, and viewing videos in 4K is still completely free. However, those who do see it cannot watch any YouTube videos at a quality above 1440p without paying for a premium subscription.
YouTube Premium is $12 a month in the United States and delivers an ad-free video experience, background playback, and lets you save videos offline to watch later. We could see 4K video playback added as a paid premium feature, depending on where you live.
YouTube has yet to make any sort of announcement or comment, so we’re not sure if this is a limited test run or a change coming soon for everyone. We’ll keep an eye out for more details.