YouTube has confirmed that it is experimenting with a higher quality 1080p video quality option for Premium subscribers. Previously, some users noticed a new “1080p Premium” option in the quality settings menu. According to company spokesperson Paul Pennington, the option is currently available to “a small group of YouTube Premium subscribers.”
“1080p Premium is an improved bitrate version of 1080p that transfers more data per pixel for a higher quality viewing experience,” said Pennington. “The existing quality level for 1080p (HD) resolution on YouTube has not changed.”
There have been concerns that YouTube is removing the default 1080p mode to make the Premium version more attractive, but the statement implies that the company has not made any changes.
The 1080p standard describes the resolution, or the number of pixels, that make up an image, but there are other factors that affect video quality. Bitrate and color depth are also important – good 1080p video can look better than regular quality 4K. Bitrate describes the amount of data used to transmit a second of video.
1080p video on Blu-ray can deliver a maximum bitrate of 40Mbps, which results in a pretty sharp picture. At the same time, the standard YouTube 1080p bitrate fluctuates between 8 Mbps and 10 Mbps and can look noticeably worse than Blu-ray. The result also depends on which codec the video is compressed with, as some are more efficient than others and perform better with less data. However, bitrate is not completely separate from resolution – the number of pixels determines how much data is needed to transmit video in acceptable quality.
Generally, a video encoded with the same codec but at a higher bitrate will look better. This appears to be exactly what YouTube is doing – one Reddit user with access to this feature posted a screenshot of the company’s “Stats for Nerds” tool, which shows Premium 1080p video playing at around 13 Mbps, versus 8 Mbps in standard mode on the same video. However, YouTube usually uses variable bitrate encoding, which means that the bitrate value depends on the specific scene of the video.
Showing video with a high bitrate is more expensive than YouTube, and a denser stream is more difficult to play for users with a narrow Internet channel – for example, on mobile phones. On the other hand, you can watch a better video if you have a good channel and a premium subscription.
This isn’t the first time YouTube has experimented with paying higher quality videos. Previously, some users were able to watch 4K videos labeled Premium, which caused a strong reaction from the community. However, it looks like the paid playback options will become an extra perk for premium subscribers without compromising the experience of other users.
YouTube will leave 4K among the basic features – the experiment to limit high-quality video to a Premium subscription is over
Source: The Verge
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