Two months ago, Sundar Pichai announced a new era of belt-tightening at Google, leading to the shutdown of the Pixel laptop hardware team, a cull of half of its experimental projects in Area 120, a technology spin-off. from Project Loon and the death of Google Stadia. The next step for the icy hand of Google’s budget department might be YouTube. MacRumors reports that YouTube is experimenting with paying 4K video resolution for videos, making it exclusive to YouTube Premium subscribers.
In the past month there have been reports of this experiment affecting some users. When selecting a resolution, every option is available except “2160p” (4K), with a small “Premium” tag next to it. That’s $11.99 a month if you want access to the highest resolution videos. Google’s recently slain game streaming service, Stadia, had a similar billing setup, with 4K being a premium add-on.
So, after testing up to 12 ads on YouTube for non-Premium users, some users now reported that they also need to have a Premium account to watch videos in 4K. pic.twitter.com/jJodoAxeDp
— Alvin (@sondesix) October 1, 2022
This isn’t the only YouTube monetization experiment Google has tried lately. Last month, some users saw as many as 10 non-skippable ads before a video. There was a lot of criticism, and Google later called the move an “experiment” that it “concluded,” which apparently means it’s not happening. We could see something similar happening with the idea of paying for 4K resolution depending on how the reception goes. We’ve asked Google PR for comment, but the company said it has nothing to share at this time.
YouTubes Twitter account recently confirmed the experiment and suggested providing feedback on the change.