Rumor: You may soon need YouTube Premium to watch 4K video

Martin Brinkmann
Oct 2, 2022

Google experimented on YouTube to increase the company's revenue on the platform recently. After running tests with up to 10 unskippable ads before videos, users on Reddit report that YouTube limited 4K video resolutions on their devices, prompting them to upgrade to YouTube Premium to unlock that, previously unlocked, option.

youtube 2160p premium

Reddit user Ihatesmokealarms published a screenshot of the YouTube application that limits 2160p playback to YouTube Premium. Google did not provide a comment on whether the change is rolling out to all customers on the platform or if it is a limited experiment, just like the 10 unskippable ads experiments run in August 2022.

A check on our devices returned no such limitation in the YouTube application on Android, iOS or desktop devices. Some users replied to the thread stating that they experienced the limitation as well, while others stated that they could select 4K video on YouTube without any issues.

You need to select Settings in any video and then the Quality option that is listed there to display the available resolutions that are supported. Not all videos on YouTube support 4K, as it depends on the source file whether that is supported.

Note: we recommend third-party apps like NewPipe when it comes to watching videos on YouTube. They are ad-free and include many nice-to-have features that YouTube apps do not support or limit to Premium customers.

The recent experiments appear to have a single goal: increase the number of Premium subscribers. At $11.99 per month, YouTube Premium is more expensive than the majority of streaming media services, including Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, or Netflix (the Basic plan at least). For Google, it means increasing a steady stream of revenue, regardless of how advertising is developing in the coming years.

For now, Google seems intent to annoy the hell out of regular YouTube visitors and users to get them to see the beauty of YouTube Premium.

Another approach could be to increase the value of YouTube Premium for subscribers instead, which could do wonders for the perception that users have regarding YouTube and the Premium offering.

Now You: do you watch 4K video? What is your take on this latest change on YouTube? (via Neowin)

Rumor: You may soon need YouTube Premium to watch 4K video
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Rumor: You may soon need YouTube Premium to watch 4K video
Some YouTube users report that Google is limiting 4K video on their devices to YouTube Premium.
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  1. Graham said on October 3, 2022 at 4:21 am

    4K stutters like crap for me on YouTube. I’m fine with 1080p.

  2. Andy Prough said on October 3, 2022 at 3:23 am

    Clearly anyone using google streaming services or cloud services or using chromium based browsers needs to begin planning to leave the google walled garden. Get your videos from somewhere else like Odysee, use a non-chromium based browser, stop using gmail and goffice, just move on completely. Google is throwing a huge tantrum over their declining revenue outlook, and they are clearly planning to break all their toys on the way down.

    1. Rex said on October 7, 2022 at 6:41 am

      People follow individual content creators, until those creators decide to move to or mirror their content elsewhere, they’re stuck. Same goes for those advocating New Pipe etc. Odysee and Rumble and Bitchute are just echo chambers for conservative refugees from Google who were banned from there, with just political crap. Snore.

      All these only work if you see Youtube as interactive TV to mindlessly flip through. NewPipe and similar apps that aren’t Vanced (RIP) can’t login to your account and so can’t save favorites, vote up/down videos to make use of the recommendations engine, or comment.

  3. Yanta said on October 3, 2022 at 1:34 am

    “Increse the beauty”? Seriously?
    Forcing customers to pay U$11.99 (A$18.99) per month for essentially stuff that is nothing more than rubbish seems like a waste of money. Especially with people worldwide suffering from a lack of spare cash. The only thing they would achieve with me is to push me to alternative platforms.

    No streaming platform is “worthy” of being paid for. Especially not at the inflated prices they are charging. It’s all drivel. Go outside, talk to your neighbors. Play sport. Go fishing. Have a BBQ. Y’know – be socialable.

    If one was to try to get most of the libraries available across all streaming platforms in Australia that would set you back A$400 per month. That is hardly “good value”. And given that the content is 99.9% drivel – you’d have to be insane to spend that kind of money.

    1. Zardoz said on October 3, 2022 at 1:05 pm

      Yeah and when you stop paying, you have zero music and zero video. You own nothing, and are ummm..happy..? I say STEAL all your media. That’s what the big companies do, they don’t own Metallicas music, they RENT it to you and give Metallica a microscopic amount of money for it. The company owns the server the music sits on, that’s it. If the server/internet is down, you ain’t got no rock ‘n roll. And you, dumb monkey, give them your money and feel soooooooo good and smug about yourself because you support the “band”. Dork. Go to the gigs, buy a T-shirt. That’s enough of support.
      And to you who want to impress your date with your streamings services..That’s the dumbest crap I’ve heard in a long time. How about impressing her/him/it with your PERSONALITY AND MANNERS instead? Maybe that would get you somewhere..

    2. Anonymous said on October 3, 2022 at 10:20 am

      Good luck when your date comes over and you have to explain why you don’t have any streaming service lmao

      1. Rex said on October 7, 2022 at 6:37 am

        Don’t date a couch potato then. Find things to do together that don’t involve zoning out in front of a TV while checking your social media feeds on your phone.

  4. SkyNet said on October 2, 2022 at 11:25 pm

    so many cheap ass people on here …YouTube Premium is actually worthy paying for…you get YouTube Music with it and ad free YouTube. Have had it for the last 2 years and love it.

    1. J.Sparrow said on October 3, 2022 at 12:58 pm

      I use NewPipe for video. Over the years I have stolen over 25k music albums, they are now mine FOREVER to use offline or on any device of my choosing. I have them all on my SD card in my phone and play them with GoneMad Music Player, which I strangely enough, paid for.
      I love it.
      You can kiss my ass, media renting Google-slave.

  5. Kindkiwi said on October 2, 2022 at 10:06 pm

    Why should users of Youtube be paid nothing for 4K content that they own when Google clips the ticket?
    In other cases, content that is uploaded to youtube is pirated.

    User should demand payment for it if they are going to charge for 4k content.

    After all,Google pays media companies in certain countries for content on its news platform.

  6. John G. said on October 2, 2022 at 9:25 pm

    720 is good enough in every screen non wider than 14 inches. Thanks for the article! :]

  7. the butcher fairy said on October 2, 2022 at 8:15 pm

    Should be interesting to see whether or not I can download 4k video with yt-dlp if this is enacted.

    I expect things to “tighten” up from here, more commercials, more levels of payment for various options, crippled or disabled settings/features for free users, etc.

    YT had a good thing going, but like everything in time it just starts to rot.

    Download the video/audio content you want now, back it up on at least 3 different forms of media, and at least 2 different locations, one being off-site. Do it now before the noose tightens even further.

  8. Bizniz Good said on October 2, 2022 at 5:59 pm

    That’s pretty retarded, considering that 85% of YouTube content is illegally uploaded. You’re basically charging top dolla for moonshine.

  9. Bobo, the friendly ape. said on October 2, 2022 at 5:52 pm

    NewPipe and LibreTube to the rescue! But seriously..I wouldn’t be surprised if say Android 14 would come with the great new safety feature where it’s impossible to sideload apps.

    1. Yash said on October 2, 2022 at 10:35 pm

      You mean something like Manifest V3 which will stop user script extensions? Everything for security in Google’ yard. Nothing for sweet money.

      1. Bobo, the friendly ape. said on October 3, 2022 at 12:51 pm


        Exactly. I bet Google are working night and day on solutions how to exterminate NewPipe etc, since it completely undermines and frankly ridicules their brilliant YouTube businessmodel with ads and paid subsriptions. Just like they try to with youtube-dl. Google absolutely HATES when tech sites or youtubers even mention that there are alternatives like NewPipe, the majority of people have no idea. Most people don’t even know that you can install apps from someplace else than Google Play, which is supposedly “safe”..yeah right.. Millions of malicious apps on there, Android security is still a very bad joke in 2022. At any given tima a safe and adfree app can be bought and with the next update your phone is bombed to Hell. Android AV apps do absolutely nothing, Googles own security solution does absolutely nothing, there are timebombs in gazillions of apps that you download from Google Play etc etc.. a real sh*tshow actually. Google once said: Don’t be evil… HAH, what a lie.

  10. Tachy said on October 2, 2022 at 5:45 pm

    Our TV upscales everything to 4k so if we did watch youtube on it, it wouldn’t matter.

    If I find I need to watch anything on youtube, I do it on my PC were I don’t get any ads @ 720p.

  11. Yash said on October 2, 2022 at 5:36 pm

    Folks(including me) will always find a way to watch whatever content we want to watch in any resolution. Not the first change by Google to restrict options available to users. Will fail miserably like other changes before.

    Google should start working on getting comments section right. Listen to any song on YouTube and comment section is full of – best song ever brigade ranging from comment made 10 years ago to 2 days ago. Literally nothing useful in YouTube comment section. Get that right you daft decision makers at Google HQ.

  12. userpassadmin said on October 2, 2022 at 4:31 pm

    Don’t care and won’t buy, a very minority of internet users actually watch 4k, they have good racks and internet speed to be able to download and watch 4k.

  13. Herman Cost said on October 2, 2022 at 3:33 pm

    No, thank you. Too much money for too little benefit. Plus it means supporting Google, which is a negative for me on general principals.

  14. Bernard said on October 2, 2022 at 12:32 pm

    Rumor is: ppl will leave YT in droves….

  15. JB said on October 2, 2022 at 10:56 am

    TikTok is giving Google/YouTube increased “low quality” video competition. Natural for them to realize how relatively unchallenged they are in the “high quality” video space for the mountain of content they possess and turn it to revenue.
    I already pay for a family plan for YouTube premium (I got in for Google Play music because I found it preferable to Spotify, and YouTube premium was a side benefit that has become the main part both in branding and my usage). I’m proof some already find the value offer worthwhile.
    Since this move won’t really affect phone-sized device viewing quality, I don’t imagine it’ll move many users into new subscribers. If only Google would throw in increased storage (i.e. Google One)… That might move the needle.

  16. Anonymous said on October 2, 2022 at 10:12 am

    4K on YouTube? lol who cares. 1080 is totally enough.

    Only by using ublock and sponsorblock together is YouTube tolerable as it is now. So good job on trying to make it even worse!

    1. Anonymous said on October 4, 2022 at 9:49 am

      and Clickbait remover!

  17. ChromeFan said on October 2, 2022 at 9:48 am

    Hopefully this happens. Maybe limit it to 720p or 1080p. The rest, everybody has to pay for. This is what you call innovation. Finding ways to make money where others cant. Google DESERVES to make money. What is the difference between you working for money nd Google putting 4k behind a paywall? There is none. Google is not a charity, and they claim to be be unlike a certain company. Using the internet to watch a video is not a right, it is a luxury.

    1. Peterc said on October 2, 2022 at 7:07 pm


      “What is the difference between you working for money [a]nd Google putting 4k behind a paywall? There is none.”

      And that, folks, is the Chicago-School approach to antitrust in a nutshell. There is no such thing as a monopoly! There is no such thing as market power! The low-level grunt stocking shelves at a grocery store is *no different* from a trillion-dollar corporation with the world’s dominant video-hosting platform, the world’s dominant search engine, and the world’s dominant smartphone OS! They’re both just working for money, and if that shelf-stocker wanted to, he could outcompete Google and put them out of business tomorrow! Why do we even still have antitrust laws on the books, anyway? They’re quaint and antiquated, like the Geneva Conventions!

    2. Same but different said on October 2, 2022 at 5:56 pm

      The difference is that my work pays for my food and bills. Google’s “work” pays for 100 trillion billion dollars in the executives pockets per month and new golden slip ‘n slides and platinum toilets at the Google HQ.

    3. ECJ said on October 2, 2022 at 1:49 pm

      Same energy as the Google Stadia Games & Entertainment Creative Director:


      22 October 2020

      “The real truth is the streamers should be paying the developers and publishers of the games they stream. They should be buying a license like any real business and paying for the content they use.”


      29 September 2022

      “A few years ago, we launched a consumer gaming service, Stadia. And while Stadia’s approach to streaming games for consumers was built on a strong technology foundation, it hasn’t gained the traction with users that we expected so we’ve made the difficult decision to begin winding down our Stadia streaming service.”

      1. :-) said on October 2, 2022 at 7:29 pm

        @ECJ Some Google execs really need a reality check. Streaming is literally free marketing, get any big streamer to play a game and you see a huge boost of player count instantly. Why would streamers need to pay for a license to stream the game? If anything, the platform they’re on should be the one paying for such a thing as they are the ones legally hosting the content, not the streamer. Google just keeps spewing brainrot every time they hope their mouths, incredible.

    4. ChromeFan said on October 2, 2022 at 9:50 am

      Edit: and they *dont claim to be

  18. Iron Heart said on October 2, 2022 at 8:26 am

    They seem to realize that being ad-free was not enough of an argument for YouTube Premium when adblockers are a thing (and will continue to be a thing despite Manifest V3). So they need to come up with other “arguments” like taking away 4K from “ordinary” YouTube users.

    I don’t believe this will work, I am fine with 1080p and I am sure so are many other people. I hope that such artificial restrictions will help the growth of other platforms like Odysee.

    1. Klaas Vaak said on October 2, 2022 at 5:36 pm

      @Iron Heart: YewTube has a lot/all? the vids YouTube has.

      Odysee, BitChute, Rumble are all fine.

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