YouTube finally justifies your HDR TV purchase

Sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment a technology went “mainstream”. When, exactly, did HDMI overtake component cables? When did DVD officially beat out VHS? Those other technologies might not have fully defined adoption dates but, as of today, high dynamic range (HDR) video might. 

That’s because today YouTube officially began support for the display technology that allows for increased clarity, color range and contrast to be seen on your HDR-compatible TV. 

YouTube announced that it would support HDR at the beginning of the year during CES 2016, however it wasn’t until today that videos could be viewed in the expanded range. 

That’s due, most likely, to the fact that Google has recently started to ship the Chromecast Ultra, a new streaming device that supports both 4K and both versions of HDR, HDR10 and Dolby Vision, and both major video game console manufacturers have released new systems that support the technology in the form of the Xbox One S and PS4 Pro

Those are worth mentioning because, as it stands, you’ll need one of those devices to stream the content to an HDR10 compatible screen, though that will change in the near future when YouTube adds native support for its app on all Samsung 2016 SUHD and UHD TVs.

While YouTube’s addition of HDR content is great for most content creators and HDR TV owners, Google says the streaming service will currently only supports the HDR10 standard and not Dolby Vision – which is unfortunate considering that the technology has been announced or is available from many of the leading TV manufacturers such as LG, VIZIO, TCL, LeEco, Skyworth and Loewe.

Still, even if YouTube adopts only one form of the technology, the widespread utilization of HDR by a major streaming service opens the technology up to thousands of content creators who can now leverage HDR to make more eye-popping videos to continue the trend of HDR TVs going mainstream. 

It’s the start of a positive – and extremely colorful – feedback loop. 

Nick Pino

Nick Pino is Managing Editor, TV and AV for TechRadar's sister site, Tom's Guide. Previously, he was the Senior Editor of Home Entertainment at TechRadar, covering TVs, headphones, speakers, video games, VR and streaming devices. He's also written for GamesRadar+, Official Xbox Magazine, PC Gamer and other outlets over the last decade, and he has a degree in computer science he's not using if anyone wants it.