It's been nine months since Google-owned YouTube announced it would soon support HDR content.
With HDR-compatible televisions bursting onto the market, and several other media companies (such as Netflix and Amazon) announcing they too would support HDR content, many consumers are likely wondering what's going on with YouTube and when they'll be able to watch funny cat clips in HDR. Here's everything we know about YouTube's HDR plans, including what HDR means.
YouTube HDR: When will HDR be available?
YouTube at CES 2016 in January said it planned to support the latest innovation in video: HDR (or high dynamic range). Robery Kyncl, the company's chief business officer, quietly revealed the news during on-stage discussion about 360-degree video experiences, which YouTube also supports, with GoPro's CEO, Nick Woodman, and Chris Milk, the CEO of VRSE, a virtual-reality studio.
In fact, YouTube told TechCrunch that it already showcased YouTube in HDR 4K on CES’s show floor, displaying videos from NASA and Karmin on the latest TV sets from Samsung, LG, and Hisense. Unfortunately, since January, YouTube hasn't done anything else in regards to HDR. It hasn't announced when support will roll out, and as of September, it doesn't appear to offer any HDR content.
YouTube HDR: What does HDR mean?
As we mentioned already, HDR stands for high dynamic range. The technology basically improves video image quality by expanding contrast ratio and colour palette. The result is a more realistic and natural image with richer colours, brighter whites, deeper blacks, and plenty of detail for dark, shadowy scenes. The format is informally considered the next step beyond HD TV.
Keep in mind HDR is sometimes branded differently. For instance, an alternative HDR standard is called Dolby Vision. One of the things that makes Dolby Vision different is that it's designed as an end-to-end HDR process. Pocket-lint has an in-depth guide that details everything you need to know about HDR and the different standards available, including their technical specs:
YouTube HDR: What types of HDR content can you watch?
On YouTube, you'll presumably be able to watch HDR content from YouTube creators who made HDR videos using HDR-capable cameras (just like you can do now with 4K videos and 360-degree videos from YouTube creators), and you may be able to rent HDR movies from YouTube, although the company has not confirmed whether this type of offering will be included with HDR support.
Currently, several HDR 4K movies are available in the market, including Fury, Men in Black 3, After Earth, and so on.
YouTube HDR: How will you find HDR videos on YouTube?
It's unclear how YouTube will designate which videos are HDR. It's also unclear how you will be able to find them. We assume you'll be able to select HDR from an app/site-wide search filter or settings toggle on clips (just like you can do for 4K videos, 3D videos, 360-degree videos, etc).
Keep in mind Netflix, which supports HDR, doesn't make it clear which TV shows and movies are available in HDR, but it has already started showing HDR content, with the show Marco Polo, for instance.
YouTube HDR: What do you need to watch HDR?
You can only watch HDR on a HDR-compatible TV/display. Vizio, Sony, Samsung, Panasonic, LG, TCL, Hisense, and every other TV manufacturer you can think of now sell HDR TV sets. The new PS4 Pro can also output HDR video. During Sony's September event, the console maker announced both YouTube and Netflix are making new apps that will play HDR videos on all PS4 models.