Google is already asking users to pay in order to watch 4K content on YouTube

Watching 2160p (4K) content is not a luxury most Kenyans have as mobile data is still expensive, and not many people, especially those living outside major cities, have access to fixed internet connections. Even for those that do have access to fixed internet, most affordable plans (from around Ksh 1,500 to Ksh 5,000 monthly) are severely lacking in bandwidth that can comfortably support flawless 4K streaming (at least 25 Mbps)

However, for other regions where they have better internet infrastructure, the latest move by Google to restrict the ability to choose 4K quality on videos, locking the feature behind YouTube’s premium plan, is certainly going to raise some eyebrows.

For a few weeks now, a few users on Reddit have been complaining of their inability to choose the 2160p resolution, with text next to it labelling it as a premium feature. It did not take long before Google formally acknowledged on Twitter that the move was part of an experiment to better understand the feature preferences of Premium and non-Premium viewers.

Since, according to Google, it was initially just a test to see how user behaviour would change, it remains to be seen whether they will push forward with the new move and restrict non-premium users to only content of up to 1440p quality.

Moreover, the company has already set up a page where you can leave your feedback regarding the test, and help them find ways to “make improvements”.

If you consume 4K content on the regular on YouTube and are considering paying up for the premium tier, it will set you back $11.99 (Ksh 1,500) monthly, if you are in the US. The price varies depending on your country, and as luck would have it, YouTube Premium is not available in Kenya.

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For that price, you get access to YouTube Music Premium, in-app downloads, background play and also ad-free viewing. Ad-free viewing has to be the biggest advantage here, as it is increasingly becoming annoying consuming YouTube content with the ever-increasing number of ads per video.

At the end of the day, YouTube’s move, should they stick with it, will affect a very small number of users in Kenya. However, globally, the number of users embracing huge 4K TVs is increasing, and they would not want to consume their content on anything less than 4K quality whenever possible.

Locking 4K content behind a paywall might just be the push these YouTube users in the developed nations with solid internet infrastructure need to pay up for YouTube Premium.

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Naftaly is a Computer Science graduate with a passion for tech, video games and pop culture. When he is not writing articles for AndroidKenya, he is probably rewatching the Lord of the Rings trilogy for the hundredth time. Email at Twitter @KarisNaftaly