YouTube might limit 4K videos to YouTube Premium
Back in August, Google tested delivering up to 10 unskippable ads before videos, and fortunately that feature didn't make it further than the experimental stage. Now, it looks like Google is investigating another feature that would help increase the revenue generated by the platform via more YouTube Premium subscriptions. Sadly, if this feature goes beyond the experimental stage, regular YouTube viewers who enjoy 4K videos will have to get a subscription.
While Google remains silent regarding this matter, Reddit user Ihatesmokealarms revealed a screenshot where a full HD video playing has the 2160p option accompanied by the "Premium - Tap to upgrade" text. After checking on my devices, I can say that, at least in Romania, the alleged limitation is not currently tested/implemented.
If the above experimental feature gets implemented, free YouTube viewing will be only available up to 1440p or so (depends on the video format, since most videos available use the ubiquitous 1080p resolution, and then go straight up to 4K). YouTube Premium is more expensive than most streaming media services, with a price tag of US$11.99 per month. However, if Google decides to make the aforementioned move in order to bring more people to the Premium side, it would be smart for them to drop the price by a few dollars as well.