YouTube is asking some users to purchase a Premium subscription to watch in 4K

YouTube’s Premium paid subscription includes benefits like ad-free viewing, video and song downloads for offline consumption, and background plays. Now, it might also be shifting video streaming in 4K resolution (currently free for all users) to the premium tier.

Over the weekend, users across Reddit and Twitter noted that YouTube had been asking them to upgrade to the premium tier to watch videos in 4K.

It’s not clear if the change is part of a limited test, or if the company is thinking about capping free users to 1440p resolution. Google refused to comment on the story when contacted by TechCrunch.

However, one of YouTube’s official support handles replied to a user who posted a screenshot of video streaming in 4K showing up as a premium feature. It said that the user might have been a part of the company’s “experiment to know better the feature preferences [sic] Premium & non-Premium users.”

The company has tried various methods to convert free users into paying ones. One of the most notorious ones was showing them up to 11 unskippable ads before the start of a long video to let them have an uninterrupted experience.

Last year, Google said that it crossed the 50 million subscriber mark across YouTube Music and Premium. While the price of these subscriptions varies across regions, in the U.S., it charges $9.99 per month for YouTube Music and $11.99 per month for YouTube Premium.

In its Q2 2022 earnings, the search giant said that YouTube brought in $6.87 billion in revenue — which was much lower than analyst expectations of $7.51 billion. So it’s not unexpected that the company might try new ways to increase paid users for its video streaming services.

Last week, YouTube TV launched a new program to let users subscribe to add-on channels like Showtime, HBO Max, NBA League Pass and MLB.TV without purchasing a $64.99 a month base plan.

The story was updated on October 4, 11.25 AM IST with a tweet from YouTube support.