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YouTube is experimenting with making 4K premium-only and with many things YouTube does caused a lot of controversy since it was free before. In my opinion, storing, transcoding and serving video, let alone 4K video isn’t free so it’s not surprising that they’ll want to raise money from it. Linus linked here on the other hand goes into why video is so expensive and why YouTube should keep operating.
In short, YouTube is a very important platform which requires a lot of money to run given all the storage capacity you need. The marginal cost of supporting 4K is much higher than the previous times YouTube supported higher resolutions and without additional revenue, YouTube might not be able to support multiple livelihoods and educational resources as it does now. While 4K is nice, most people don’t watch content in 4K and there are better ways to improve video quality that don’t require a lot of storage. As his experience with Floatplane suggests, 6% of people watch 4K but they make up 20% of bandwidth costs. Every video platform should be similar and YouTube’s trial solution is better than Vimeo’s shakedown pivot.
I always like it when Linus talks business as he really gets it. It’s usually on the WAN show, but he touched on it while talking about the screwdriver [VIDEO 29:11].