4K streaming on YouTube could soon be locked behind a pay wall

4K streaming on YouTube could soon be locked behind a pay wall
(Image credit: Future)

You might soon have to pay for 4K streaming on YouTube. The Google-owned video-sharing site is testing ways to get people to pay for its Premium tier. Chief among them? Restricting 4K streaming, and serving up more ads (in some cases up to 12 in a row), flatpanelshd reports.

YouTube Premium costs £11.99 / $11.99 / AU$14.99 a month, and gives you various perks, including no ads, YouTube Music Premium, and downloads for offline viewing/listening.

YouTube is experimenting with how to convert more users into paying customers. One of these ways is by limiting 4K viewing to Premium users only. Another is by showing more unskippable adverts during longer content.

YouTube admitted this is part of a test, but tried to spin it as a positive development for users.

"We ran a small experiment globally that served multiple ads in an ad pod when viewers watched longer videos on connected TVs. The goal is to build a better experience for viewers by reducing ad breaks," a YouTube spokesperson told PCMag.

Restricting 4K content would also seem to part of the test, seeing as some users are still able to watch it as normal.

YouTube wouldn't be the first to limit premium features to paying customers. Netflix only lets subscribers to its premium plan enjoy 4K, HDR and Dolby Atmos content, while Spotify makes non-paying customers endure adverts. Still, this would go against YouTube's origins as a site for content creators to share their creations.


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Joe Svetlik

Joe has been writing about tech for 17 years, first on staff at T3 magazine, then in a freelance capacity for Stuff, The Sunday Times Travel Magazine, Men's Health, GQ, The Mirror, Trusted Reviews, TechRadar and many more (including What Hi-Fi?). His specialities include all things mobile, headphones and speakers that he can't justifying spending money on.

  • Freddy
    What Hi-Fi? said:
    YouTube is experimenting with more ads and charging for 4K content to try and drive people to its paid-for tier.

    4K streaming on YouTube could soon be locked behind a pay wall : Read more
    Not going to work…for me at least.
  • manicm
    Watching 4k vids on yt is a waste of bandwidth. Next.
  • bemaniac
    Turkey vpn - £1 a month. That's what I do.