The Future of 4k on YouTube..

I’m back from a crazy travel period (for now) and getting back to a more normal routine. That means it’s also back to the usual cadence of Weekly Wrapup channel update and topic videos! Check out my latest one here.

This week in addition to talking about an upcoming giveaway and other housekeeping items I did a brief analysis on the potential for YouTube to require a premium subscription for 4k videos.

This topic originated from a Reddit post where a user encountered an “upgrade to premium” next to the 4k resolution option on his smartphone:

Reddit user Ihatesmokealarms

It’s likely this is one of Youtube’s “experiments” where they select a small sample of users and see how they react to a particular option or feature. My guess is that they’re looking to see how many people who get this message upgrade to Premium to determine whether or not this is a direction they should pursue.

I polled my subscribers to see what resolution they watch at, only about a quarter lock their YouTube clients in at 4k. Most opt for the automatic setting or select 1080p. So this likely won’t impact a vast majority users:

Unfortunately YouTube doesn’t include resolution in their analytics so it’s hard to say exactly what my viewership looks like. What I do know is that switching from a 1080p to 4k production workflow did not result in any change to my viewership one way or the other.

With the economy slowing down YouTube will no doubt be looking for new ways to find new sources of steady revenue. They’ll likely be experimenting with a lot of new features/restrictions centered around their subscription-based Premium tier over the next couple of months.

Personally I think YouTube Premium is a great value for users and creators. YouTube just works better without ads (it feels so much faster) and you also get access to the great YouTube Music app with its huge library of music. And YouTube shares a good portion of the subscription revenue their receive with creators.

What surprises me is that YouTube has never put together an affiliate marketing program for YouTube influencers to promote Premium subscriptions. It seems like a no brainer that a platform full of influencers would have something to promote subscriber growth.

Perhaps YouTube makes more on the advertising side of the business and did not want to heavily promote a product that could reduce those revenues. But now that advertising revenue is expected to drop off, perhaps that calculus is changing….