YouTubePremium, the $11.99 per month ad-free version of YouTube, today introduces a number of new features aimed at attracting and retaining subscribers. Most notably, the subscription plan will now include higher quality video for web and iOS users, support for co-watching videos on FaceTime via Apple’s SharePlay, and other controls for managing your video queue. waiting on mobile devices.
The company believes the broader feature set will help it better market the subscription to consumers, as many don’t know what YouTube Premium provides other than removing YouTube ads. The launches also follow other recent additions, like the ability to keep watching videos where you left it on any device and a “smart downloads feature which automatically saves recommended videos for offline access. This latest feature is now also available to Internet users, in addition to iOS and Android.
While many of these earlier features more subtly enhanced the YouTube Premium subscription – running in the background where they may be unnoticed by the end user – today’s newly announced additions will be more central to the viewing experience.
For starters, YouTube will begin rolling out an enhanced bitrate version of 1080p HD video quality for Premium subscribers on iOS and then on the web in the coming weeks. (On the web it will first be available as an “experiment”. To clarify, this is not one of the experiences of The YouTube Premium offer which allows subscribers Early Access to test new features before a public release.) While all YouTube users will continue to have access to 1080p, the improved 1080p quality setting will make videos “extra crisp and clear,” YouTube says, including those that have lots of detail and movement, like sports and games. If implemented successfully, it could help YouTube Premium better live up to its name by providing a “premium” experience for subscribers, not just a less annoying experience by removing ads.
Another key addition is support for Apple’s SharePlay, first introduced at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in 2021. Although other video services have long supported SharePlay, including competitors like Disney+, HuluHBO Max and ICT Tac, YouTube will restrict access so that only paying subscribers can use the co-viewing feature. This positions the service in a different space from rival TikTok which was among the first to support Apple’s co-monitoring feature for FaceTime users.
Of course, SharePlay, to some extent, now feels more like a pandemic-era solution designed to connect people who can’t be together in real life. Netflix, for example, never even bothered to launch its own official co-viewing option, having apparently bet on declining usage for such a thing as the lifting of Covid restrictions. So it’s interesting to see YouTube trying to market SharePlay as a “benefit” rather than a standard feature, especially when its in-house co-viewing solution within Google Meet is already available. allows YouTube co-viewing without the Premium upgrade for all users. (YouTube says only Premium users can get started with Google Meet, but anyone, including non-subscribers, can view).
Another new feature offers more control over your queue when you subscribe to YouTube Premium. Starting today, Premium users will be able to to add videos to their queue when watching on phones and tablets. While today free YouTube users can save videos to playlists, including “Watch Later”, queuing allows users to control which video they want to play next. during their current viewing session.
Updates join other YouTube Premium Features which, beyond ad-free viewing, include background playback for watching when the screen is locked, offline downloads, and access to YouTube Music Premium.
Correction, 11:00 a.m.: High bitrate for web will be an experiment, YouTube says, but will not be listed on the experiments page at youtube.com/new. We’ve also clarified the requirements for YouTube on Google Meet.