It looks like Google is testing a new YouTube 1080p premium tier for a better viewing experience on Windows 11. The feature is designed to increase the quality of high-definition videos and, up until this point, it was only available to mobile users on a paid premium tier.
Windows Latest first noticed the new ‘1080p Premium’ option when watching videos in Microsoft Edge or in Chrome using a Windows 11 device. When Mayank Parmar from Windows Latest clicked on the new option, a pop-up appeared that asked him to subscribe to YouTube Premium, which he was already subscribed to.
According to support staff working at YouTube, the company tested the feature with select users last month and has made an effort to expand this feature to Android phones and TVs. The option is currently only available for videos up to 1080p and no higher. In a screenshot from Windows Latest, you can see the ‘1080p Premium Enhanced Bitrate’ option for a music video that only goes up to 1080p, but not for 4K videos.
Google confirmed the enhanced 1080p playback on mobile devices in April, and it seems the company is making a push to bring the feature to desktop platforms.
What’s the difference?
It may sound like an exciting new tier of premium viewing, but there isn’t much to get excited about. 1080p may not be super high-end quality, especially if the bitrate is low. A lower bitrate will tank the quality of even 4K video.
Some users have noted that Google has reduced the quality of 1080p YouTube videos which possibly helps save bandwidth costs. The proposed feature would unlock a higher bitrate for 1080p with a monthly subscription, which kind of sucks.
We have a lot of subscriptions already, and for Google to purpose hiding better quality 1080p videos behind a paywall isn't exactly consumer friendly and feels like another expense for absolutely no reason. Obviously, if you’re already subscribed to YouTube Premium it doesn’t make a difference to you, but if you aren’t and don’t want to add on another subscription this could be pretty annoying.