YouTube has ended the experiment that locked the ability to watch videos in 4K behind its $11.99 a month premium membership, according to one of its official Twitter accounts (via 9to5Google). Earlier this month, the company made waves when it confirmed with a series of now-deleted tweets that some of its users were part of a test meant to explore “the feature preferences Premium & non-Premium viewers,” and asking users to provide feedback on the idea.
The idea of having to pay to access higher resolution videos was a divisive one, with some users calling it a sign of the platform’s downfall, and others saying it was understandable given the cost of streaming 4K content. YouTube’s announcement that it had “fully turned off” the experiment, opening the 4K option back up for everyone, was even in response to a snarky tweet about it forcing premium subscriptions. It’s unclear how many people were actually restricted from choosing higher resolutions when the test was in effect.
YouTube ending the test doesn’t necessarily mean that it’ll never restrict 4K to Premium subscribers again — we’ve seen even unpopular experiments, like the removal of public dislike numbers, being rolled out months after tests began, and Team YouTube’s tweet doesn’t say anything about what it learned from the test. Earlier this year, Google’s CEO warned employees that the company needs to be “more entrepreneurial, working with greater urgency, sharper focus, and more hunger than we’ve shown on sunnier days,” and its most recent earnings report showed that YouTube’s revenue growth had slowed. In other words, feel free to go back to enjoying 4K videos, but be aware that they may not be there forever.