YouTube could limit 4K videos to premium subscribers

A few users are reporting that YouTube is asking them to buy the Premium membership to watch videos in 4K resolution.

Google is trying hard to increase its revenue from YouTube. Earlier this month, the company was found to be showing five unskippable advertisements before the start of a video. Those ads will either fetch Google more money or push people to opt for YouTube Premium. However, that move was tested on a limited number of users to see how they respond. Google quickly wrapped up that small experiment, most like due to outrage on the internet about it.

Well, Google has now found a more clever way to monetize YouTube without irritating people with more advertisements. According to a few people on Twitter and Reddit, the video streaming platform is now asking users to subscribe to YouTube Premium if they want to watch a video in 4K (or higher) resolution.

YouTube’s 4K limitation could push people to their premium subscription

If you are a non-Premium user, you will be able to play videos only up to 1440p (QHD) resolution. This limitation is most likely another of Google’s small experiments because YouTube seems to be blocking 4K videos behind its paywall only for a few users.

YouTube has only 50 million paid subscribers right now, even though it has a much larger user base compared to other media streaming services like Spotify (188 million paid users) and Netflix (220.7 million paid users). Limiting 4K videos to just Premium users could very well get YouTube more paid subscribers. That’s especially true when you consider that almost every TV above 43” nowadays has a 4K display.

YouTube Premium costs $11.99 in the US. Apart from ad-free videos, it allows you to download videos for offline viewing and also gives you access to YouTube Music.

For free YouTube users who access the streaming service only on their smartphones, Google’s move to block 4K videos rather than showing more advertisements is actually better. That’s because displays on the majority of phones max out at Full-HD or QHD resolution, which means people can watch videos at the highest resolution their smartphone’s screen supports without having to pay for YouTube Premium or watch too many advertisements.

What do you think about YouTube’s approach to this matter? Do let us know in the comments section below.

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