YouTube ends its Premium-only 4K resolution test, opens it to all users

YouTube Premium Galaxy Z Fold 3.
(Image credit: Andrew Myrick / Android Central)

Update (Oct 18, 4:38 pm ET): YouTube's testing ends, removing the paywall behind its 4K video quality.

What you need to know

  • YouTube appears to be in the process of delivering a 4K resolution option to Premium members.
  • Testing appears to be extremely light, and many still have the option to stream in 4K without the subscription.
  • It's not clear how widespread this new test is or how long it will last.

It looks like YouTube is interested in scaling up its video quality by testing a 4K resolution options with a catch.

An early mention about this test started on a Reddit post where the user screen grabbed the 4K option for a video they were watching. The 2160p resolution is accompanied by a tag beneath which states, "Premium · Tap to upgrade."

YouTube's new 4K resolution option appearing in the app.

(Image credit: Reddit)

Curiously enough, it's not clear how widespread YouTube has made this "test." There are comments on either side, with some users who could still view a video in 4K despite not being a YouTube Premium member and others not seeing it all. During our own in-house tests, we haven't spotted this requirement for videos either.

It was just a year ago when YouTube TV finally gained 4K resolution content ready for streaming with the addition of offline downloads. This brought about a new package for members, titled 4K Plus, that would cost $10 per month for the initial year and then $20 per month from then on. Do keep in mind that the 4K Plus package is an add-on to the base YouTube TV plan.

Thus, putting 4K streaming behind the Premium paywall wouldn't be too much of a stretch for Google. This is particularly true given how many large tech companies are starting to feel economic pressures affecting their revenue. During its Q2 earnings, Google cited "economic headwinds" as the reason for its slower-than-expected growth and noted that advertisers were reducing spending on YouTube.

YouTube currently offers two variants of membership: one for YouTube Music priced at $9.99 a month and another with more perks for $11.99. The latter offers users more features (as you'd expect), offering the removal of ads and the ability to play videos and music in the background or offline for YouTube, YouTube Music, Kids, Gaming, and VR.

For the time being, YouTube has not shared anything regarding its recent light testing of offering 4K resolution videos to its Premium members.


According to the YouTube team, it has removed the paywall behind its 4K video quality as the testing phase for its experiment concludes.

The idea of needing to pay for this video quality seemed to not go over well with many YouTube enjoyers. The video streaming platform's official Twitter responded to one user, letting them know that the experiment has ended and that all viewers should be able to watch their videos in 4K resolution without needing YouTube Premium.

While its testing details were light, without purchasing a YouTube Premium subscription plan, users would be left out without that extra kick in video quality during their free time.

The official Twitter account has also been answering questions and accepting feedback about their recent test, although we weren't exactly sure how widespread it was. YouTube has also ensured its members of YouTube TV that bringing 4K resolution videos is for YouTube's videos and not its TV subscription service.

Nickolas Diaz
News Writer

Nickolas is always excited about tech and getting his hands on it. Writing for him can vary from delivering the latest tech story to scribbling in his journal. When Nickolas isn't hitting a story, he's often grinding away at a game or chilling with a book in his hand.