Those who were worried that YouTube would completely limit access to 4K content to Premium subscribers can breath easily. For now. YouTube has revealed on Twitter that it has "fully turned off" the experiment that requires Premium subscription to be able to play videos in 4K resolution. Earlier this month, users started reporting on social networks like Reddit and Twitter that when they accessed the drop-down menu for resolution options, the word "Premium" was right next to 4K/2160p. Not everyone was required to have a Premium subscription to play 4K videos, though, indicating that it was an experimental feature rolled out to a limited number of users.
we've fully turned off this experiment. viewers should now be able to access 4K quality resolutions without Premium membership. we're here if you have other q's— TeamYouTube (@TeamYouTube) October 17, 2022
It's unclear why YouTube has decided to cancel the experiment, but as 9to5Google notes, it was met with a significant amount of negative feedback. Users were understandably far from happy being asked to pay $12 a month or $120 a year to be able to play videos in the highest resolution available on the website. And those who weren't part of the experiment were concerned that it would make its way to wide release and be a permanent "perk" for Premium subscribers.
YouTube didn't say whether it's permanently shelving the idea of locking 4K videos behind a Premium subscription. In a tweet written in Japanese, YouTube invited users to leave a feedback about the experiment, which could help it ultimately decide how to move forward.