Is it possible to watch YouTube videos better than 1080p? The answer is: yes, and without the need to put them in 2K or 4K. YouTube has confirmed that it is testing an option to watch videos in “1080p Premium”. According to The Verge, this new option, which would feature 1080p with better video quality, is currently available to “a small group of subscribers to YouTube Premium,” YouTube’s subscription service.
“1080p Premium is an enhanced version of the 1080p bitrate that provides more information per pixel resulting in a higher quality viewing experience,” YouTube spokesperson Paul Pennington told The Verge. The company also states that “there are no changes to the existing quality offerings for 1080p (HD) resolution on YouTube”, so the quality of standard 1080p would not be affected.
The resolution of a video is not everything, and there are more factors that determine its quality. Two of the characteristics that most influence the quality of a video are the bitrate and the color depth. While the latter determines the color range of a video and its hues, the bitrate determines the amount of data that is transferred in each second of a video.
With YouTube’s new option for its Premium users (who usually enjoy extra or experimental features), videos on the platform would run at 13 Mbps (as confirmed by a Reddit user with access to the feature), while standard videos on YouTube are viewed at around 8Mbps. Even so, the bitrate of videos on YouTube is variable, so it will go down or up depending on what can be seen on screen.
The feature for YouTube Premium users comes on the heels of Radio Builder, the new YouTube Music feature that allows platform users to create their own radio stations. These functions are in addition to the many launched by the platform at the end of October 2022, which added the possibility of activating a “dark mode” of its interface or zooming in videos, among others.