Is 720p still called HD (high-definition)? Well, if you ask YouTube, then the answer is No. The online video streaming platform has rolled out a new change where 720p is no longer recognized as HD. This has led to a debate among netizens, who are now questioning the very meaning of high-definition. In the world of video, the content streamed at 360p or 480p is straight away defined as ‘standard definition’. When you step up to 720p or above, the quality of the content is dubbed as ‘high-definition’.

YouTube has a new definition for high-definition

The high-definition category is further broken down into Full HD, Ultra HD and so on. Depending on the resolution, the name changes and higher resolution is generally considered fancier. However, for years, the 720p resolution has been called high-definition in the industry. But folks at YouTube think otherwise and they silently made a change. The Google-owned streaming service quietly dropped the HD moniker next to 720p streaming quality of a video.

If you visit YouTube right now on a desktop browser like Safari, Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge, you will see this change. Now, play any video you want and then go to the playback quality toggle. Here, you will see that YouTube has dropped the ‘HD” badge that was previously there next to 720p. As you can see in the above image, there is now option to choose from 1080p and 1440p as HD while 2160p is classified as 4K. It is not clear what forced YouTube to make such a change to the quality of videos.

For the record, the 720p quality is still widely considered as a quality of consumption. In markets with limited data and slow speed, the ideal resolution is 720p. During the pandemic and lockdown, these platforms switched to 480p as the default streaming quality. It is also important to note that a lot of creators shoot at 4K and down-scale their sample to 720 and 1080p to produce more details. There are a number of advantages to 720p video including less data consumption and ability to stream even on congested mobile networks.

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With so many consumers still sticking with 720p monitors and televisions, YouTube’s change is baffling. The company has pushed everyone to think if 720p is no longer worthy of being called as high-definition? If that’s true then what is the definition of HD in YouTube’s books. For now, we know that 720p HD videos from yesteryear are just standard definition videos now. Will it drive creators to upload more 1080p and 4K videos? We will need to see.

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