01 Dec 2016

YouTube intros 4K live streaming

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This year's ceremony will be the first content streamed on YouTube in 4K This year's ceremony will be the first content streamed on YouTube in 4K Game Awards/YouTube

Not long after introducing HDR support, under a month in fact, viewers of today’s Game Awards can help make online history by watching the first content live streamed on YouTube in 4K.

YouTube seems to be on a bit of a roll at the moment, certainly it’s accelerating its rollout of new format support in recent months compared to the six year gap since it enabled 4K video upload for the first time.

4K live streaming is now available for both live 360-degree videos (another 2016 launch, which we seem to have inadvertently been part of) and standard videos and is running at 60fps. The video bitrate requirement for a 3840 x 2160p stream at 60fps is listed as between 20,000-51,000Kbps, whereas at 30fps that value drops down to 13,000 to 34,000Kbps.

By way of comparison, 1080p60 only requires between 4500 and 9000Kbps.

The usual optimize for low latency is not available, but YouTube says that all streams will be optimized to ensure less viewer buffering. How did it work out? Those with 4K monitors and plenty of bandwidth are welcome to let us know in the comments; the ceremony starts at 9pm EST.

Interestingly, the blog post on the announcement seems to be really pushing the 360-degree aspect of all this, and certainly informal chats we’ve had with people in the VR field have all suggested of late that 4K60 is when the suspension of disbelief really kicks in and environments can become truly immersive.

So, six years from 4K to live 4K. Live HDR 4K will be next and then is anyone willing to bet how long until we see live 8K streaming? The format first debuted on the platform last year, but we'll put our money on the live flavour appearing quite a long way before 2021...


Andy Stout

Andy is Deputy Editor of RedShark. He has spent over two decades writing about all aspects of the broadcast and film industries for a variety of high-profile industry publications on both sides of the Atlantic. During that time the industry has moved from 4:3 SD to 16:9 SD to HD and now on to 4K HDR. He's getting kind of curious to see where it goes next.

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