YouTube Adds 4K Live Streaming Support to its Content Infrastructure

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YouTube has announced it now supports 4K live streaming at 60 frames per second, enabling content creators to live broadcast both 360-degree and standard video in the high resolution standard.

Viewers with screens equipped to take advantage of the resolution shouldn't have to wait long to tune in to regularly streamed 4K broadcasts. YouTube said the first event to be live streamed in 4K will be the Game Awards, which takes place today at 9pm EST (6pm PST).

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For creators this means the ability to take advantage of an incredibly clear picture for recorded and now streaming video. It’s the kind of thing that can help to push their hardware (and their talent) to create the most beautiful or just plain crazy-looking images and videos possible. And with 360 4K live streams, the sky is (literally) the limit. Get ready for 360 concert and event streams that look sharper, cleaner, and brighter than ever before.

4K video uploading has been supported on YouTube since 2010, but the high resolution content has only gained steam more recently as the technology gradually approaches the mainstream. Today's upgrade to the Google-owned service also potentially opens the door to 4K live streamed events like sports and concerts being included in YouTube's forthcoming "Unplugged" web-based TV streaming service, which is close to being finalized.

Unplugged is said to include a "skinny bundle" of channels from the four major U.S. networks, along with a few popular cable channels priced at around $35 per month. YouTube has been in talks with major media companies like 21st Century Fox and Disney, and signed up CBS to be included in the subscription package in October.

Last month also saw Google debut the Chromecast Ultra, a 4K version of its popular streaming device. Set to be released this December, the Ultra can stream 4K content from YouTube, Netflix, and Vudu, and 4K movies from Google Play Movies.

The latest announcement offers another sign that Google is pulling ahead of Apple in the race to offer a high-resolution streaming television service. Apple's plans to offer a TV package subscription service of any sort have stalled in recent years because of its "hard-nosed" negotiation tactics with content providers and an inability to allay fears about the interruption of traditional revenue streams.

As for 4K, the latest Apple TV does not support the UltraHD resolution and iTunes has yet to offer the content.

Related Roundups: Apple TV, tvOS 14
Tags: Google, YouTube, 4K
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Don't Buy)

Top Rated Comments

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51 months ago

I think it actually takes 4K content, which is still incredibly sparse.

Apple products that support 4K recording, viewing, or editing - iPhone, iPad, iMac, MBP, Mac Pro
Apple products that don't - Apple TVo_O

Apple claims courage in moving us towards the future with a USB-C only MBP and removal of the 3.5mm jack. USB-C devices are incredibly sparse and lightning devices are even more sparse. So when you use sparse content as an excuse for the Apple TV... yeah, not so much. It's the same argument people used when Apple was stuck at 720p. It didn't work then, and it doesn't work now.

Apple is supposed to be a forward looking company. At a bare minimum future proofing the ATV would have made sen... ahhhhh, maybe they don't want the ATV to be future proof. Might dent sales of a newer ATV. Kidding not kidding.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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51 months ago

This is nice, but beginning to broadcast changes in the promotion algorithm and to stop screwing over the content creators should be priority number one.

IMO it was a new swipe for bot killing.
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I have a 4K TV (KS8000) and a PS4 Pro. There's next to no 4K content out there when compared with 1080. In fact of the 4K content I have watched, 99% of it has been through the 4K ready apps built into the TV itself anyway, so a 4K ATV wouldn't have made any difference here.

What Apple needs is to mass update the movies and TV shows in their store to 4K, until then a 4K ATV is largely pointless.

Don't forget that you bought a machine that doesn't have the biggest library of 4K content. UHD BD movies, the biggest error IMO for the new PS4 vs their competitor.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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51 months ago
This is nice, but beginning to broadcast changes in the promotion algorithm and to stop screwing over the content creators should be priority number one.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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51 months ago
To chime in here, the "until there's plenty of software, the hardware shouldn't advance" argument is foolish or naive... only applied- albeit relentlessly- to this ONE Apple product.

Per that same thinking, there is ZERO software that depends on iOS10 in the app store right now. So why bother making iPhone 8?

Or until the app store is full of iOS10 and iPhone 8 hardware-dependent apps, there's no point in developing iPhone hardware any further.

The same can be said about developing Macs too. Apple just rolled out a touchbar MB pro. Before the launch, there was zero software to take advantage of that bar and it will likely take weeks or months for much popular software to evolve to utilize that new feature. Was Apple stupid for advancing the MB pro with a feature before all Mac software could take advantage of it? No, that's how it works...

Hardware always leads. Software always plays catch up to fully exploit the advanced capabilities of the hardware. It's always been this way. In the past, it made no sense to stock shelves with BD, DVD or CDs before there is any hardware to play them. The point of confusion seems to revolve around this idea that a 4K:apple:TV would require something more than a non-4K:apple:TV does now... that we would all have to throw away perfectly good HDTVs or that we all must first have broadband upgrades or that we all must only download the 4K version of anything that is offered for sale in the iTunes store. None of that is true... just as a 1080p:apple:TV didn't force anyone to buy new televisions or only buy 1080p content, etc. Better hardware (a 4K:apple:TV can easily work with and/or downscale to lessor hardware, such as a 1080p or 720p HDTV "I" already own)... just as your iPhone can work with some Cellular bands that you probably never actually use because it also works with the bands you do use.

Just as it made zero sense for movie studios to try to push video and music discs into stores before there were any hardware players to play them, so goes 4K content in the iTunes store for :apple:TV hardware. If someone could wave a magic wand today, instantly creating versions of every single video in the iTunes store at 4K for :apple:TV, how much money could be made on all that video?

Nothing. Zero. Not a penny.

Why? Because you have to have 4K:apple:TVs in homes to consume that software. There is no chicken or egg here. Put lots of new :apple:TV hardware in homes with the capability to play 4K and the numbers will seduce some Studio to see if they can make a profit on some 4K content. If they do, others will follow. It's impossible for any of them to make $1 on 4K content for :apple:TVs that don't yet exist.

Recall in the pre-launch of the "4," we got to see a demo of some game apps exclusive for the "4." That is a great example of having software for hardware before the hardware is "in the wild." How many sales of those apps could be made before there was any "4"s in our homes? ZERO. There's no revenue or profit in software before hardware that can run it exists. It would be the same if everything in the store had a 4K version for :apple:TV available today. There's no money in it until there is hardware that can play that software in lots of homes.

Why we keep spinning this idea that software must be available in the store before there's any hardware capable of playing it is either not thinking this concept through or spin to try to rationalize why Apple seems to be the only STB maker without a 4K playback option. Personally, I think it's borderline ridiculous to have a whole hardware ecosystem capable of capturing, editing, rendering and storing in 4K except this one link in the chain that would "just works" most simply in pushing that content to anyone's 4K TV... especially when looking around at pretty much all competitors and seeing all of them with 4K STBs already. Apple actually spins the 4K capabilities of all of the rest of their hardware as part of marketing that hardware. Yet here- with this one thing- "1080p is good enough" which is the very same sentiment spun back when Apple was still clinging to "720p is good enough" before they rolled out a 1080p :apple:TV.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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51 months ago
Meanwhile, I'll just be over here waiting for 10 minutes for a normal 3 minute normal video to load...
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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51 months ago


Don't forget that you bought a machine that doesn't have the biggest library of 4K content. UHD BD movies, the biggest error IMO for the new PS4 vs their competitor.

I wish I could like this post more than once. 4 thousand times would seem appropriate.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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