YouTube Ends 4K For Premium Subscribers Test

BY Dave Johnson

Published 18 Oct 2022

4k streaming

YouTube has ended its experiment with 4K streaming behind a paywall. So the few affected users can now watch 2160p content on the platform without a premium subscription. 

Earlier in the month, reports suggested that YouTube was testing placing 4K streaming on its platform behind a paywall. Indeed, a few users on Twitter and Reddit noted that the Google-owned streaming platform asked for payment to view 4K videos. 

Well, the good news is the test is over, and you can now view 2160p content for free. According to several tweets from YouTube’s Twitter account, Google has discontinued the test that made 4K exclusive to premium subscribers. 

“We’ve fully turned off the experiment,” says YouTube. “Users should now be able to access 4K quality resolution without premium membership.”

YouTube conducts a/b testing all the time to assess how users react to new features. Unsurprisingly, the platform users’ feedback on placing 4K streaming behind a paywall was primarily negative. So that could explain why YouTube reversed its decision. 

That said, you may not want to celebrate just yet. Here’s why. 

YouTube Premium for 4K Streaming Could Be Permanent?

Again, the tweet says that YouTube has ended its experiment. Technically, it means Google could implement a non-experimental, permanent paywall to access 4K content on the streaming platform — and it would make sense. 

The plan to make 2160p and higher resolution exclusive to Premium subscribers could incentivize free users. With the resulting increase in signups, YouTube could enjoy a slight revenue boost in the coming years. Besides, platforms such as Netflix already charge extra for 4K content.  

Be that as it may, we can only speculate on the streaming giant’s intention. With the experiment over, there’s no evidence that YouTube will soon place 4K streaming behind a paywall. 

In other words, you may never have to pay for 2160p and higher-resolution content on YouTube.