YouTube tests a ‘1080p Premium’ mode
March 3, 2023
YouTube continues to experiment with its YouTube Premium subscription. After having considered preventing free accounts from being able to play content in 4K, an idea that in the end has been discarded, the video platform has begun testing a new feature.
As confirmed by a company spokesperson to The Verge, some paying users now could play content in “1080p Premium”. This is an upgraded option from the usual 1080p that seeks to offer “a higher quality viewing experience”. While on the other hand, XDA-Developers collects that users have turned to Reddit to show the appearance of a new option in YouTube apps for mobile. For now, the company has not referred to the matter, but everything suggests that it would be an experiment and not necessarily a function that is about to be launched definitively.
The key is in the bit rate
From the technical point of view, this new possibility does not intervene in the resolution of the contents. In both cases we are talking about 1920 pixels horizontally and 1080 pixels vertically. The advantages in terms of quality come from a higher bit rate.
Choosing 1080p Premium, as YouTube explains, means playing content with more information per pixel than 1080p. To be precise, the bitrate is an especially principal factor that intervenes the quality of the videos. If there is more information, we will have better quality.
Mobile App Theory
Now, if we look at it from the theory that the first hints of the existence of 1080p Premium have appeared in YouTube mobile apps. It makes sense that this would be the case, as this is the quality at which most people consume their content daily from their smartphone. It is a reality that, no matter how big your phone screen is, 1080p is often enough.
One of the screenshots taken from the YouTube mobile app, shows that the 1080p Premium indicates “Enhanced Bitrate”. What does this mean? That Google could be experimenting with offering a bitrate commensurate with that of a higher resolution video, without the need to trade for a higher resolution. (As we mentioned in “The key is in the bit rate” paragraph.)
This could go a long way in improving the experience of playing content from a smartphone, so that the image is clearer or sharper. Not only because of the resource consumption it represents, but also because sometimes it is not worth it. Let us keep in mind that many cell phones do not even offer screens with a resolution higher than 1080p.
In addition, it should be noted that the standard 1080p playback option does not disappear. “There are no changes to the existing quality offerings for 1080p (HD) resolution on YouTube,” they point out from the company that, as we say, tries to add features to encourage users to pay for their subscription.
Is YouTube purposely ruining 1080p quality?
There will be no shortage of discussions about whether they are doing it on purpose to offer a 1080p premium and make a profit. No one likes to be charged for something that used to be free, and it makes the most sense. But we cannot be sure that this is really the case either. And if the platform begins to offer a paid Full HD option, but without removing the one that exists so far at no additional cost, it will be up to each person to choose which one they prefer if they are willing to shell out the money in question.