A new video quality choice has reportedly appeared in the YouTube drop-down menu, according to some users. A second playback choice, labeled 1080p Premium, is displayed alongside the standard 1080p option, with a note reading “Enhanced bitrate.” The improved video quality is being tested by “a small group of YouTube Premium subscribers,” according to a statement provided to The Verge by a representative from the website. An “enhanced bitrate version of 1080p,” “provides more information per pixel, resulting in a higher quality viewing experience,” as they put it. Furthermore, the quality of the standard 1080p resolution is not expected to change, which YouTube may or may not perceive to be excellent news.
Many users on the Reddit thread describing the test complained that the default 1080p resolution was too grainy. Bitrate is a measurement of how much video data is transferred in a given period of time; increasing it could result in better images without increasing the resolution. While 4K video would provide superior clarity and detail, XDA Developers points out that it would also require users to stream a much larger file, which could increase data usage or expense.
However, YouTube has only approved the enhanced 1080p choice for limited testing at this time, and the feature may never be made available to the general public. If it ever leaves beta, only YouTube Premium subscribers will be able to watch it. Individual accounts will cost $12 per month, while family plans will set you back $23 per month.