YouTube has Ended the Test that Made 4K a Premium Feature


According to one of YouTube’s official Twitter accounts, the test that locked the ability to watch videos in 4K behind its $11.99 per month premium membership has ended. Earlier this month, the company made headlines when it confirmed in a series of now-deleted tweets that some of its users were part of a test designed to explore “the feature preferences of Premium & non-Premium viewers,” and it asked users for feedback on the idea.

The idea of having to pay to access higher-resolution videos divided users, with some seeing it as a sign of the platform’s demise and others seeing it as understandable given the cost of streaming 4K content.

YouTube’s announcement that it had “fully turned off” the experiment, restoring the 4K option for everyone, came in response to a snide tweet about it forcing premium subscriptions. It’s unclear how many people were actually prevented from selecting higher resolutions while the test was running.

YouTube’s termination of the test does not necessarily imply that it will never restrict 4K to Premium subscribers again — we’ve seen even unpopular experiments, such as the removal of public dislike numbers, be rolled out months after tests began, and Team YouTube’s tweet makes no mention of what it learned from the test.

In an earlier message to staff, Google’s CEO said that the company needed to be “more entrepreneurial, working with greater urgency, sharper focus, and more hunger than we’ve shown on sunnier days,” and the company’s most recent earnings report revealed that YouTube’s revenue growth had slowed. So go ahead and continue watching 4K videos, but be aware that they might not always be accessible.

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