YouTube TV is a live and on-demand streaming service with over 80 channels available. While YouTube TV isn’t actually a 4K streaming service, it does have 4K streaming abilities with the new 4K Plus add on for $19.99 a month. We’ve summarized everything you need to know about YouTube TV in 4K, including which content is available and the devices you can watch it on.
What does 4K mean and why would I need it?
The highest possible viewing quality you can get is 4K. It uses the largest number of pixels available, which means there are more pixels to fit the frame. What you see is a much sharper, more detailed, and brighter picture quality.
To put it into perspective, full high definition (HD) uses 1080p at 1,920 x 1,080 pixels, while 4K offers 2160p, using 3,840 x 2,160 pixels. Most modern devices like smart TVs and game consoles support 4K viewing if you have the content available, of course.
Only select streaming services offer 4K, and most only offer certain titles in UHD. It’s specifically designed for bigger screens, so if you like streaming movies direct to your smart TV, then you can make the most of 4K.
As there are more pixels to fit the frame, 4K viewing means images don’t need to be lengthened to fit the size of your 55-inch smart TV, so they’re much clearer and more defined. By comparison, if you stream something in standard definition (SD) to your large screen, it’ll probably appear fuzzy, and images might even look stretched.
Which YouTube packages support 4K resolution for streaming?
As of June 29th, YouTube TV now offers the 4K Plus plan which provides users access to content in 4K if you have a 4K streaming device. The package is an add-on to the normal YouTube TV plan that gives you access to live TV from 70+ channels, including entertainment, news, and sports from channels such as ESPN, Food Network, FOX, FS1, and NBC Sports Network.
YouTube TV also covers local channels depending on your zip code, which means it offers the benefits of a cable subscription, too. So you can watch local news and sports channels with the service in 4K with the 4K Plus add on.
YouTube itself is free, and there are some videos available in 4K at no-cost, but this doesn’t include movies, shows, or any live TV. YouTube has a list of movies and shows that you can rent in 4K through the YouTube app on certain devices, including smart TVs and Android TVs. You’ll need to pay a fee, usually between $2-$15 to stream these movies and shows.
You can also sign up for YouTube Premium for $11.99/mo. You have a one-month free trial with YouTube Premium to test it out at no cost first.
This plan lets you stream available 4K content (and everything else too) free from sponsored YouTube ads. Remember, though, any live TV you watch always has commercials.
You get access to exclusive YouTube originals, like Cobra Kai, Liza On Demand, and Mind Field. YouTube Premium also lets you download videos to watch another time.
Families can choose the YouTube Premium Family plan at $17.99/mo., which lets you share your subscription with 5 family members. Or if you’re a student, choose the discounted Student plan for $6.99/mo.
What 4k content is there on YouTube TV?
YouTube has a small library of content that’s available for 4K streaming but it is growing rapidly. It currently includes Alpha, Blade Runner, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Peter Rabbit, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and The Equalizer.
To find 4K movies on YouTube TV, search the YouTube app using relevant keywords. If you add tag words like 4K video, 4K HDR, 4K, and UHD after the show or movie title, it’ll display any available viewings.
You can apply filters to your search results so that it only shows 4K programming. To do this, click on the filter icon once you’ve searched for a movie or show and select 4K under the Features list.
You can also set the YouTube video quality to 4K rather than searching manually, by choosing 2160p for UHD in the settings menu on the movie or show — this looks like a small toggle icon. While some movies might be available in UHD, if your internet speed is too slow or you don’t have the right device, you won’t be able to watch videos in UHD.
There’s a 4K video channel on YouTube available for free that you can subscribe to. The channel offers a huge variety of videos, including nature documentaries, car stunts, and even food-related 4K content. Remember, though, just because a video is labeled as 4K in the title doesn’t mean it is available in UHD. Check the video settings once you start watching to see if your content is definitely playing in UHD.
Popular titles on the 4K channel include The Extraordinary Eruption of the Calbuco Volcano in Chile and GoPro HERO4: The Adventure of Life in 4K. You can also watch various film trailers in 4K through YouTube, too. If you pay for YouTube Premium, these will all be ad-free.
Which devices support 4k streaming on YouTube TV?
YouTube TV supports most popular devices, though you can only use specific devices for 4K streaming. This includes the following:
- Android TV
- Apple TV
- Chromecast Ultra (with 4K displays capable of HDCP 2.2)
- Fire TV Stick 4K
- Hisense TVs
- Samsung & LG smart TVs
- Vizio SmartCast TVs
While YouTube TV is compatible with the above smart TVs, devices must support 4K viewing to watch anything in UHD on YouTube.
There are some devices that simply don’t support 4K viewing. Android mobile, desktop, iPad/iPhone, PlayStation 4, Roku, and Xbox One aren’t compatible for streaming 4K on YouTube TV. Even if you purchase a movie in UHD from a compatible device like your Apple TV, it won’t play in 4K on your Android mobile or iPhone — at most, you’ll have HD with 1080p.
Other streaming services like Amazon Prime Video let you stream in 4K on game consoles, so you could look there if you need to watch videos in UHD on your Xbox or PlayStation. Or if you’re after 4K streaming on your Roku device, fuboTV has you covered.
What internet speed do I need for 4K streaming on YouTube TV?
Even if a movie or show is available in 4K and you have a compatible device, you can only watch something in UHD if you have a high-speed internet connection.
If your internet speed is slow, the quality of your stream will be much lower. For example, most streaming services require a minimum of 3 Mbps to stream in SD — anything below this, and you’ll find your video is usually pixelated, buffers regularly, and might even stop altogether.
For YouTube TV, you need a consistent internet speed of more than 15 Mbps to stream in UHD. If your speed drops below this at any time, it’s likely your movie or show will switch to 1080p instead. You can turn 4K viewing back on again, but only when your internet speed allows it.
If more than one person in your household plans on streaming at the same time, you’ll need an even faster connection. For example, if you plan on using all of your 3 simultaneous streams with YouTube TV at once, your internet speed would need to be 45 Mbps or higher for all of you to stream in 4K.
The final cut
YouTube TV is growing its library of 4K movies and shows, but it’s important to remember that it’s not a 4K streaming service without the 4K Plus add on. Altogether you’re looking at around $85 a month for the YouTube TV service with the 4K Plus plan, however there are deals out now for you to get a free trial before you purchase the add on.
While you can stream in 4K on YouTube TV, there are certain criteria you must meet first — available 4K content, a compatible device, and a consistent high-speed internet connection of 15 Mbps or more. Even if the video is available in 4K, if you don’t have the right device or your internet speed is slow, your movies will stream in HD or lower quality. A free seven-day trial, so you give the service a try without spending a penny.