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

Our home entertainment setups are increasingly sophisticated and feature rich. This is likely due to the increased availability of reliable and affordable home Internet access.

Smart TVs are all the rage today and we use them to access many internet and online content streaming services, services that also enhance their game by providing high quality content.

YouTube remains the largest video streaming platform in the world and as such many of these mainstream streaming boxes support YouTube services like YouTube TV.

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

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

dvr 4k youtube apple tv 4k


We have the package that allows 4k and can see the broadcasts there. Checking the resolution options, it’s not even possible to go above 1440 on anything other than On Demand. On my laptop and Chromecast, I can bring it up to full 4K. I have the Apple TV Gen 4, but I think that shouldn’t be a limiting factor.

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

Essentially, Apple TV 4K owners are a bit confused as to whether their models will be able to enjoy the recently introduced YouTube TV Live 4K streams.

The 2021 Olympics are upon us, and that’s one more reason for owners of these setups to make the feature work. However, a portion of users report that they are unable to stream in 4K. So what gives?

Apple tv


Well, the TL; DR of all of this is that only the Apple TV 4K (2021) model is supported. As such, YouTube TV Live 4K does not work with original Apple TV 4K units. YouTube TV’s official FAQ page makes this clearly stand out, which should probably be highlighted.

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 comes down to the VP9 codec.

MTB YT TV 4K problem


The VP9 codec was developed with the aim of reducing the bit rate by 50% compared to the VP8, while having the same video quality. Due to the heaviness of 4K streams, support for this codec is paramount to the experience, support that those older Apple TVs just don’t have.

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

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

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