Nowadays, any TV you buy, no matter how cheap it is, is most likely Smart, and has a native resolution of 3840 * 2160 pixels, the very famous 4K resolution.
In fact, even the world of monitors is evolving in this direction, with a big bet on an increase in resolution, and the adoption of more advanced panel technologies, in order to offer a significant improvement in the consumption of multimedia content.
This means that it is possible to play various types of titles in 4K, watch series and movies in 4K, or even view the photos and videos that you have taken on your high-end smartphone, which nowadays are even capable of recording in 8K, all of this from a device equipped with a large screen, and pixels to give and sell.
However, in 2023, a year when Internet speed and bandwidth is anything but an issue, even on mobile connections (How much bandwidth is required for multimedia content? 5 Mb/s for Full HD videos ( 1080p) and 25 Mb/s for videos in UHD (4K))… 4K is no longer commonplace!
Unfortunately, this resolution is now being closed behind significantly more expensive, and impractical, premium subscriptions. What is up?
4K should be commonplace in 2023, but it’s starting to be Premium!
Therefore, as you may know, any subscription to a multimedia content streaming service asks for more money for access to higher resolutions. Which is exactly why Netflix’s most equipped and expensive package now costs €15.99. (A figure that is expected to increase in 2023 in Portugal).
That said, in a technological world that is already starting to point towards 8K, as you can see in the image above, things seem to be getting more complicated for those who like to have access to high resolution content.
After all, Google also seems to be planning to put 4K resolution as an exclusive feature for those who have a subscription to the YouTube Premium service. (This has already been tested in some regions of the world, and will most likely go ahead in 2023!)
In addition to all this, yesterday we also learned that the 4K resolution of the streaming platform HBO Max (now just Max) will be exclusive to the highest subscription level, which in the United States means a monthly fee of $19.99. (Amount in Euros, in Portugal, still unknown. But it will certainly be more than 20€.)
Is it just the beginning?
On YouTube’s side, if we take into account that the vast majority of content consumption on the platform is done from the smartphone, seeing the 4K resolution reserved for Premium subscribers is not the end of the world at all. But, it is preparing the ground to make money with the technological evolution in the mobile world. Something that Google is taking advantage of, because more and more there is the idea that streaming 4K content is “expensive”. Spoiler… It’s not! Otherwise, Google hasn’t been offering 4K streaming for free for years.
After all, with increasing optimizations in the field of hardware and software. It’s just a matter of time before the big manufacturers start betting on screens capable of offering higher resolutions, such as 4K. In fact, high-end smartphones equipped with QHD OLED panels are extremely common these days. This despite the use of dynamic resolution technologies to save battery life.
Therefore, “planting” the idea that 4K is premium, and must be paid separately, is obviously an excellent idea for the industry. It is a seed that has everything to give many good flowers in a future that is not that far away.
Especially because on the cost side, little or nothing is going to change for the industry. However, it is terrible for the consumer, who until now has always had access to a lot of good 4K content. But, out of nowhere, the thing seems to want to change to something more complex, uglier, and of course, more expensive.