Some YouTube viewers have reported seeing a new option for video quality in the website’s drop-down menu. In addition to the basic 1080p playback option, they’re also seeing another one labeled 1080p Premium with a note beneath it that says it offers “Enhanced bitrate.” A spokesperson told The Verge that the website is testing the new video quality, which is currently available to “a small group of YouTube Premium subscribers.” They described it as an “enhanced bitrate version of 1080p which provides more information per pixel that results in a higher quality viewing experience.” Also, there’s supposed to be no change to the quality of the standard 1080p resolution, which some people might not consider the good news YouTube deems it to be.
Based on several comments on the Reddit thread discussing the test, viewers find the standard 1080p resolution on the website to be poor in quality. But a higher bitrate, which is used as a measurement for the amount of video data transferred within a certain timeframe, could mean getting better images without having to bump up the resolution. As XDA Developers notes, switching to 4K would give users access to better and sharper-looking videos, but they’d have to stream a much bigger file that could cost them more or eat up more of their data allowance.
The enhanced 1080p option is just a test feature at this point, though, and YouTube might not approve it for a wide rollout at all. If it does make its way out of the experimental phase, only viewers paying for YouTube Premium will be able to access it. The subscription service will cost users $12 a month for an individual account or $23 a month for a family plan.
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