Just last month, we saw reports of YouTube testing adding unreasonably high numbers of unskippable ads on videos, going as far as double digits in some cases. Now, it looks like the video streaming platform has a new experiment: locking 4K videos behind a premium subscription.
Over the past month, a couple of users have seen the option to stream 4K videos be locked behind a premium subscription. There are at least two Reddit threads on the matter, showing two different videos that have the option locked behind a paywall.
For what it’s worth, we can still watch videos in 4K for free, be it on desktop or mobile, signed in or incognito, even on the same videos as the Reddit post. This suggests that the locking of 4K behind premium is, like the egregious number of ads from before, a limited run test for a small subset of users. Which still doesn’t bode well should this get rolled out to everyone in the future.
Had the option to stream videos in 4K not been there before, YouTube may have been able to get away with it. But because it has been a free option for just shy of a decade, suddenly making it a premium-only privilege just leaves a bad taste. Rather than making premium sound like a good deal, it may just have the opposite effect.
That’s not to say that Youtube Premium itself is inherently a bad thing. For RM17.90 a month, you’re getting an ad-free experience, as well as a lot of other features like background play, as well as access to the company’s music streaming side of the service. But all the same, some of these, especially the aforementioned background play, feel like basic features that should be there from the start, rather than a premium feature worth locking behind a paywall.