YouTube has confirmed that it is testing a higher-quality 1080p option for Premium subscribers, following reports from Reddit users of a new “1080p Premium” option in the quality settings menu. According to a spokesperson for the company, the new option is currently only available to a small group of YouTube Premium subscribers.
In a statement, YouTube clarified that the new “1080p Premium” option is an enhanced bitrate version of 1080p, which provides more information per pixel and results in a higher quality viewing experience. The company emphasized that there are no changes to the existing quality offerings for 1080p (HD) resolution on YouTube, countering concerns that the standard 1080p mode may have been nerfed to make the Premium version more appealing.
While the resolution is an important factor in video quality, other factors such as bitrate and color depth also play a significant role. Bitrate describes the amount of data used to transfer each second of video and can impact the overall quality of the video. For instance, a 1080p Blu-ray can provide a maximum of 40Mbps, resulting in a crisp image. In contrast, YouTube’s standard 1080p bitrate typically hovers between 8 and 10Mbps, resulting in a blockier image.
However, video encoded with the same codec but at a higher bitrate will generally look better, and this is what YouTube appears to be doing with its “1080p Premium” option. One Reddit user with access to the feature shared a screenshot of YouTube’s “Stats for Nerds” tool, which showed that the Premium 1080p option ran at around 13Mbps, compared to 8Mbps in the standard mode.
YouTube’s decision to offer higher-quality video behind the Premium paywall isn’t new. Last year, the company tested a feature that made 4K playback unavailable to non-subscribers, which received pushback from the community. However, this latest test may be seen as a perk for paying customers, as YouTube has clarified that the quality for the regular 1080p option remains the same.
It’s worth noting that YouTube typically uses variable bitrate encoding, which means that the amount of data used will fluctuate depending on what’s shown on screen. Additionally, showing the original video file at its maximum bitrate could be expensive for both YouTube and users, depending on their speed and data cap.
The “1080p Premium” test shows that YouTube may be willing to let Premium subscribers access higher-quality video content in exchange for payment.