YouTube on Google TV is getting a big upgrade — but there’s a catch

Chromecast with Google TV remote in hand with a finger hovering new the YouTube button.
(Image credit: Google)

Google TVs and the Chromecast with Google TV are a great option if you want a TV that can stream the latest shows and movies. The Google TV smart TV interface is sleek, easy to use and gives you a ton of apps to choose from. And now they’re getting a streaming upgrade.

Back in April, YouTube announced its new 1080p Premium video quality tier that was initially going to be exclusive to Apple TV and iPhone users with Android getting the feature later. This Premium video quality features an enhanced bitrate compared to the traditional 1080p video that you usually see on YouTube. It’s particularly beneficial for videos with high levels of detail or tons of motion — such as sports clips and gaming videos.

But now, users are spotting 1080p Premium on TVs with Android TV OS, which powers both Google TV and Android TV devices. One user, in particular, took to Reddit to share their discovery, and it looks legitimate.

So if you want a smart TV that can watch YouTube videos at a higher quality, Google TVs may just have the edge. However, there is a catch — you need a YouTube Premium subscription to unlock this new feature. 

Benefits of YouTube Premium 

YouTube Premium logo

(Image credit: YouTube)

If you’re like me, you’d immediately raise your eyes at this. After all, YouTube is free. Why would you pay for something that’s already available for free?

But if you’re on YouTube a fair amount, it could be a serious upgrade — and a time saver. YouTube Premium allows you to watch without any ads at all. Not instantly skippable, just gone entirely. That means no more ads for meal kit delivery services interrupting you while you’re in the middle of watching clips from The Big Short or sports highlights (okay, maybe that’s just me).

And skipping ads isn’t the only benefit worth considering. You get access to the aforementioned 1080p Premium video quality tier and you get more options for how you watch YouTube videos. YouTube Premium allows you to not only watch videos in a picture-in-picture mode on mobile devices, but you can even download videos for offline viewing. Oh, and YouTube Premium users get YouTube Music Premium for free, which is normally $9.99 a month. So, YouTube Premium could actually save you some money by letting you drop Spotify or Apple Music.

YouTube Premium costs $11.99 per month in the U.S. and £11.99 / CAD $11.99 / AU $14.99 rates in the UK, Canada and Australia, respectively. There are also annual subscriptions available for $119.99 in the U.S. or CAD $119.99 in Canada, and family plans for $22.99 / £19.99 / CAD $22.99 / AUD $22.99 per month. 

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Malcolm McMillan
Senior Streaming Writer

Malcolm McMillan is a senior writer for Tom's Guide, covering all the latest in streaming TV shows and movies. That means news, analysis, recommendations, reviews and more for just about anything you can watch, including sports! If it can be seen on a screen, he can write about it. Previously, Malcolm had been a staff writer for Tom's Guide for over a year, with a focus on artificial intelligence (AI), A/V tech and VR headsets.

Before writing for Tom's Guide, Malcolm worked as a fantasy football analyst writing for several sites and also had a brief stint working for Microsoft selling laptops, Xbox products and even the ill-fated Windows phone. He is passionate about video games and sports, though both cause him to yell at the TV frequently. He proudly sports many tattoos, including an Arsenal tattoo, in honor of the team that causes him to yell at the TV the most.