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YouTube TV Picture Quality: How to Make Changes & Common Issues

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YouTube TV allows subscribers to adjust the picture quality to 1080p and even 4K, although access to the the highest resolution possible will require an upgrade to the 4K Plus tier. For any subscribers currently experiencing poor picture quality with the live TV streaming service, it may be worth checking the current YouTube TV settings and making an adjustment if needed.

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A YouTube TV subscription currently costs $64.99 per month for the base plan. For those subscribed to the standard plan, the maximum playback resolution possible is 1080p. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the resolution will always be set to the highest possible.

YouTube TV automatically makes adjustments to the quality of the picture to match the situation at the time. Due to this, some subscribers may find the picture quality changes while they are watching. One very common reason why YouTube TV might make an automatic adjustment to the picture quality is that the current internet speed is not suitable for the resolution.

How to check and change YouTube TV picture quality

While YouTube TV might change the picture quality, it is fairly easy to check the current settings and make any adjustments if needed. However, the exact method does vary depending on the device.

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Change picture quality on a smart TV or mobile device:

  1. Open YouTube TV
  2. Play a video or TV channel
  3. Click “More” in the video player
  4. Click Quality
  5. Select the video quality

Change picture quality on a computer:

  1. Visit YouTube TV
  2. Play a video or TV channel
  3. Click “Settings” in the video player
  4. Click Quality
  5. Select the video quality

It is worth noting that this will only change the picture quality for the video or channel that’s currently playing. In other words, the subscriber may have to repeat the steps above each time they play a new video.

However, it is possible on some devices to make a device-wide adjustment to the picture quality. To check if this option is available on a device, the option can be found under the general YouTube TV settings menu.

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Change video quality permanently:

  1. Open YouTube TV
  2. Click profile picture
  3. Select Settings
  4. Click on “Video quality preferences” (if available)
  5. Select the video quality

This option will most readily be available to those using the mobile app and is designed as a way to ensure that too much data isn’t used up when watching YouTube TV videos. Instead of selecting an actual picture quality, subscribers will be presented with “Auto”, “Higher picture quality” and “Data saver” options, with the selected picture setting automatically applying to all videos watched on that device.

Common issues affecting picture quality

One of the most common issues that is likely to result in a poorer than expected picture quality is the internet connection in general. The quality of the picture is directly tied to the internet speed, so ensuring the internet connection is sufficient can help to make sure any picture quality problems are avoided.

Below are the minimum internet download speeds that YouTube TV recommends for 720p, 1080p and 4K.

  • 3 Mbps+ for standard definition (SD)
  • 7 Mbps+ for high definition (HD)
  • 25 Mbps+ for 4K

It is also worth being aware that the more people watching YouTube at the same time the more the internet speed can be affected, something that’s most likely going to impact on families sharing an account. For example, while YouTube TV recommends a minimum of 7 Mbps for HD, a minimum of 13 Mbps is recommended when other devices are connected to the same internet network.

Besides the internet connection, there may be other issues that are causing the lower than expected picture quality. For example, YouTube TV videos require VP9 codec support for playback in 1080p and 4K. If a supported device does not also support VP9, then the picture quality is likely to be limited. Likewise, some videos might not be available to stream at a higher resolution in general. Not to mention, not all subscribers will even have access to the highest possible resolution to begin with.

Watching in 4K on YouTube TV

The option to stream in the highest picture quality YouTube TV offers is not automatically available to all subscribers. Instead, the base subscription only comes with support for up to 1080p. If only paying for the standard YouTube TV subscription, then subscribers should not expect to be able to stream above 1080p.

For those that do want to stream in 4K, they will need to sign up to YouTube TV’s 4K Plus upgrade. This add-on costs an additional $20 per month and not only ups the maximum quality to 4K, but also adds the option to download videos and the ability to stream on even more devices at the same time, so long as those devices are accessing the service from the home area.

Of course, paying for the 4K upgrade will only be worth it to subscribers if the rest of their setup is also optimized to stream 4K videos. Again, this will mean ensuring the internet download speed is sufficient, and that the streaming player and/or smart TV (as well as any additional cables connecting the devices) are also able to handle and deliver a 4K video signal.

YouTube TV picture quality summary

YouTube TV may make automatic adjustments to the picture quality for a number of reasons, including the internet connection speed at the time. However, subscribers can check and make adjustments to their picture quality while watching a video by clicking on the “More” or “Settings” option and then selecting the desired quality.

For reference, a standard YouTube TV subscription caps the video quality at 1080p for all subscribers. Those wanting the option to stream in 4K will need to upgrade their subscription to 4K Plus at an additional cost of $20 per month. Before upgrading, YouTube TV subscribers will want to make sure the rest of their internet and entertainment setup also supports 4K.

Read more: Why HBO Max on YouTube TV Is Missing Shows & How to Watch Them

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John Finn

By John Finn

John started Streaming Better to help consumers navigate the live TV streaming and subscription service landscape. John has been writing about technology and TV-related services and devices since 2014 and believes the best streaming approach is to bounce between services as needed. Contact John via email at john@streamingbetter.com or on Twitter

13 replies on “YouTube TV Picture Quality: How to Make Changes & Common Issues”

THANK YOU! I knew I wasn’t getting the full high def resolution on YouTube TV even though Netflix and Amazon Prime were giving me high def. I changed the resolution according to your instructions and it worked perfectly.

I also do not have that option?….I think they are referring to mobile use more than regular tv use? I use roku’s on all my tv’s and can scroll down to HD button and set that to 1080p or auto…whatever I want . I also think they are also referring to using a smart tv’s settings that has the yttv app running…Just my opinion…hope this helps

On my LG OLED TV, I only see Auto, 720p, 480p and lesser resolutions. Does this mean I am not getting full 1080p? Are there streaming devices that will give better resolution than the smart tv app?

Yes, it seems lately that in auto mode, it reverts to SD, even though I had set it to 1080p, and the signal was definitely at least 1080p.
Sounds like a dirty way for Youtubetv to get us to buy the 4k option, by ruining everything else into SD, unless you go back and put each channel into HD every time.

Youtubetv’s auto picture resolution options are horrible. I am paying for an expensive streaming service yet only receiving sd quality pictures a majority of the time. This is wrong and they should fix it immediately.

I was very disappointed in the picture on my new Nano tv. I was paying for 4K. Discovered it was only on YouTube tv; other appps were good. I plugged in my Amazon Firestick 4K and had a beautiful picture. My conclusion is LG apps is not great.

The resolution on youtube tv has been very poor. I have over 400mbps and have done everything that has been suggested. nothing seems to help. All of my other apps are working with stunning picture quality. I am getting fed up.

We have a max resolution of 720p across all programming, which is not acceptable. If YouTube TV doesn’t fix this, very quickly, we will switch providers. All other media in our home entertainment is absolutely stunning with the exception of YouTube TV.

My equipment

Samsung QN90A
Fire TV Cube
Fiber optic HDMI (certified)
400+ Mbps internet
Stats for nerds:
Connection speed 69422 Kbps
Current/optimal res 1280×720@60
Viewport/frames 1920×1080*2.00 / 0 dropped of 89814
Buffer health 77.48 s

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