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YouTube’s experiment to charge everyone for 4K video quality fails

Updated Oct 25th, 2022 2:10PM EDT
Image: YouTube

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Well, it didn’t take long to get the results of that experiment.

Last week, it became evident that YouTube was running an experiment to see just how much people were willing to pay to watch content in 4K resolution. The company was testing out an update that would put 4K video quality behind the YouTube Premium paywall and leave all non-Premium users with a max resolution of 1440p. This would mean that, unless you were paying $11.99 for YouTube Premium, you’d never get to watch YouTube in 4K again.

The response to the experiment was, as you could have guessed, swift and fierce, with many people taking to Twitter to voice their frustration that the company would do such a thing. Thankfully, as spotted by TechCrunch, it appears that Youtube has learned a very quick lesson and is ending the experiment, meaning that all users can now watch their content in 4K, regardless of whether or not they have YouTube Premium.

YouTube isn’t the only one trying to paywall 4K

While YouTube has learned its lesson and listened to its users, other streaming services are pushing ahead with putting 4K resolution behind a paywall.

Netflix, for example, just announced its Basic with Ads plan, the company’s first ad-supported plan for its customers. The plan, which will cost $6.99 per month and come jam-packed with an average of four to six ads per hour, will only stream your content in 720p. Yes, 720p. In 2022.

To make matters worse, the Basic with Ads plan won’t feature the full Netflix library or allow users to download titles to watch offline. Here’s a breakdown of everything you’re going to deal with by picking the ad-supported plan:

  • Video quality up to 720p/HD (now for both our Basic with Ads and Basic plans)
  • Average of 4 to 5 minutes of ads per hour
  • A limited number of movies and TV shows won’t be available due to licensing restrictions, which we’re working on
  • No ability to download titles

While Netflix ignores what’s best for its customers and plans to launch its 720p plan in November, it’s good to see YouTube went the other way and listened to its users.

Related coverage: YouTube is introducing handles, but top YouTubers get first dibs

Joe Wituschek Tech News Contributor

Joe Wituschek is a Tech News Contributor for BGR.

With expertise in tech that spans over 10 years, Joe covers the technology industry's breaking news, opinion pieces and reviews.