After 12 years, YouTube’s 4K streaming option may soon be

… locked behind a Premium paywall.

Google can do whatever it wants with its products and services – I know that there’s really no stopping it or changing its mind when it’s made it up. We see this most evidently in the death of Stadia, and no matter what the end user thinks or feels, money speaks.

What really bothers me though is when previously free features are then placed behind a paywall just to give a “premium” service purpose. In the past, we’ve seen this with YouTube’s feature, background listening. The ability to click your screen off and listen to a video or to music was just a way of life for well, everyone. Then, all of a sudden, it became a paid YouTube Premium offering. Not because it needed any special funding to run, but because Google decided it should be behind a paywall.

Now, yet another feature is being placed behind the fortress that only your wallet can penetrate – 4K video streaming. Believe it or not, 4K quality videos have been available since 2010. That means that after 12 years, a feature you previously accessed at no additional cost is now going to be something you line Google’s pockets for just because.

Source: Android Police

As shown by Android Police, the 4K option on the video quality selector for any piece of content that offers it now shows “Premium – Tap to upgrade” below it. Doing so will, of course, bring you to the payment screen so that you can process your debit or credit card. If you’re already a Premium subscriber, you won’t see this.

There are some mentions of this being a test and not a full rollout, but we’re not entirely certain yet. If you have this option pop up for you, let us know in the comments below. I suppose I understand that Google wants to cut bandwidth for users and for itself, but with all the money it will now be saving by not running Stadia’s servers, you’d think it could manage to continue offering the feature without changing its mind.