ICYMI: YouTube TV Live 4K streaming on Apple TV 4K only works on the 2021 model

Our home entertainment setups are getting increasingly sophisticated and feature-packed. This, probably due to the increased availability of affordable, reliable home internet.

Smart TVs are the in thing today and we use them to access many internet-based services and online content streaming services, services that are also upping their game by delivering high-quality content.

youtube tv

YouTube remains the world’s biggest video streaming platform and as such, many of these mainstream streaming boxes do have support for YouTube’s services like YouTube TV.

YouTube TV is the platform’s streaming television service that offers its users live TV, on-demand video, and cloud-based DVR from more than 85 global television networks. Recently, YouTube TV added the ability to stream Live 4K content on Apple TV.

However, there seems to be some confusion as to which Apple TV models are supported for Live 4K streaming on YouTube TV. A quick scroll through the community forums and you’re bound to come across sentiments like these.

dvr 4k youtube apple tv 4k

We have the package that allows 4k and can see the broadcasts on there. Checking the resolution options it’s not even an option to go above 1440 on anything other the on demand. On my laptop and Chromecast though I can get it to go full 4K. I have the Gen 4 Apple TV but would think that shouldn’t be a limiting factor.

In their support docs, they state that Apple TV 4K is supported but has 2021 in brackets. Any idea if this add-on will be compatible with the Apple TV 4K 2017 version?

Essentially, Apple TV 4K owners are a little confused as to whether their models will be able to take advantage of YouTube TV Live 4K streams that have been recently introduced.

The 2021 Olympics are upon us and this is even more reason for owners of these setups to get the feature working. However, a section of users report that they aren’t able to stream in 4K. So what gives?


Well, the TL;DR of it all is that only the Apple TV 4K (2021) model is supported. As such, YouTube TV Live 4K doesn’t work with the original Apple TV 4K units. YouTube TV’s official FAQ page does bring this out clearly, something that should probably be emphasises.

But why is that? Of course, there’s a reason the 2017 model only supports 4K on-demand content and not live 4K content. It all boils down to the VP9 codec.

ATV YT TV 4K issue

VP9 codec was developed with the intention of reducing bit rate by 50% compared to VP8, while having the same video quality. Owing to just how heavy 4K streams can be, support for this codec is paramount to the experience, support that these older Apple TVs just don’t have.

All is not lost for owners of these older Apple TV units. Reports have it that they can still have access to these 4K streams but they’ll only be able to stream at 1440p which in itself isn’t bad as it is up to 400% higher res than 720p.

NOTE: We have these and many more YouTube and Apple TV stories in our dedicated sections.

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Clinton Madegwa

A cybernaut grasping at all things tech. Lover of Android, Linux, and custom ROMS. A nerd, a writer, an avid reader.