Whoa! You can now watch 4K live streams on YouTube

(Image credit: YouTube)

In a world of smartphones and tablets, 4K monitors are far from the default means of watching YouTube, but the video service is making a big move to push the ultra high-def resolution.

Starting today, YouTube is bringing 4K support to its live streams and 360-degree videos - making it the first service to offer live video streaming at that resolution.

According to YouTube, the first demonstration of 4K live streaming on its site will be The Game Awards 2016, which airs tomorrow, December 1, at 9pm EST/6pm PST.

While YouTube has had a library of 4K resolution videos since 2010, what really grabs us is that if the company is successful, it will have captured a white whale of sorts.  


In short: even in 2016, 4K is still a high-cost format, live or not. 

4K monitors aren't exactly, on-demand services like Netflix have a whole process just to set up 4K episodes of Luke Cage, and 4K-ready gaming consoles like the PS4 Pro are still in their relative infancy.

As it currently stands, it takes an immense amount of computing power (and bandwidth) to stream eight million pixels per frame consistently across the globe - and that goes for both the streamer and the viewer.

That, combined with the fact that only so many people have a 4K-supported monitor to begin with, have led many to believe it'd be another couple of years before live 4K streaming would be feasible.

A well-funded production of a video game awards show may be able to pull it off, but the average Overwatch streamer or vlogging enthusiast may not have the equipment to justify scaling up to 4K.

That said, if YouTube is able to pull off 4K live streaming without a hitch, it could usher in a new era of immersive live events - not to mention put other streaming services like Twitch in a tight spot - so we'll be tuning in for sure.

Parker Wilhelm
Parker Wilhelm is a freelance writer for TechRadar. He likes to tinker in Photoshop and talk people's ears off about Persona 4.