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YouTube testing ‘1080p Premium’ tier with enhanced bitrate

YouTube has experimented a few times as of late with changing up its offerings for content quality, and this week it seems to be testing out a new “1080p Premium” tier that ups the quality.

One YouTube user on Reddit found that YouTube now shows a “1080p Premium” option on their account when watching videos. No 4K option was shown on this video in particular.

What’s the difference between “1080p Premium” and standard 1080p? As YouTube’s setting clearly describes, it comes down to the bitrate.

The bitrate of a video has a direct impact on the quality of that video. If the bitrate is lower, less data, or bits, can be transferred at once. A higher bitrate can lead to video that is more clear and has more depth to the picture. A lower bitrate can often result in videos feeling somewhat grainy, or more compressed, even if they’re being played at a high resolution. It’s the reason why 4K video from a smartphone often doesn’t look as good as 1080p captured by professional equipment.

YouTube has long had a higher bitrate available for videos played at 4K quality, as Linus Tech Tips pointed out in a video last year, where 1080p has been considerably lower. This new test seemingly unlocks that higher bitrate, or at least a higher bitrate, for 1080p videos, though YouTube doesn’t explicitly confirm as much. It’s unclear right now how much this improves streaming on the platform, or who can even use it.

The name “1080p Premium” certainly implies that this feature is locked behind a YouTube Premium subscription, which would certainly make some sense. Streaming at a higher bitrate puts higher cost on YouTube to serve up the stream, which is likely a major reason YouTube considered locking 4K behind a paywall last year.

This new “1080p Premium” tier seems to be only available in a very limited capacity at the moment, and YouTube has not formerly acknowledged the test at this point. 9to5Mac’s Filipe Espósito also has access to the feature on iPhone and Apple TV, but not desktop.

H/t: This is Tech Today

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