YouTube Takes the Plunge to 4K — But There’s a Catch

 January 3, 2014
Posted by admin

If you’re looking for more content for your 4K TV, you’ll soon have somewhere new to turn: YouTube. The Google-owned company will demonstrate 4K video next week at the International CES show as it moves forward with offering next-generation video.

YouTube will serve up 4K (a.k.a. Ultra HD or UHD) in a new format called VP9, a royalty-free codec that will also reportedly offer a better experience with Google Hangouts, according to GigaOm. VP9 consumes considerably less data than other, commercial codecs (such as H.265), YouTube said, letting the service stream higher-quality streams with less bandwidth.

However, hardware must support the format before consumers can view the streams. Google is reportedly working on that, too; it will demo streamed 4K content on TVs from LG, Panasonic and Sony. Several other partners, including Samsung, ARM and Intel, have signed up to build hardware that supports VP9.

Some YouTube videos, such as the below embed of a montage shot of Australian landmarks and experiences — have a 4K option under the video-quality menu, although those videos won’t benefit from the bandwidth savings of VP9 unless the hardware supports it.

That has changed, with several manufacturers offering 4K TVs and displays — some at impressively low prices. The challenge now is bringing true 4K content to consumers. YouTube is addressing this along with the likes of Netflix, which tested offering 4K videos, and Sony, which offers a 4K download service to owners of its 4K TVs.

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