After years of anticipation, Xbox owners can finally enjoy watching YouTube on their Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One X|S consoles with HDR enabled. The addition can be confirmed by updating to the latest version of the app and bringing up its “stats for nerds” panel, which should list the Rec.2020 HDR format for high dynamic range content.
“[…] opening a YouTube HDR video on a recent Xbox One console, then bringing up ‘stats for nerds’ shows that it’s streaming in the PQ Rec.2020 HDR format using the VP9-2 codec,” Engadget confirmed in its coverage. “The maximum resolution will depend on your console, with the Xbox Series X supporting 4K at up to 60 fps, and the Xbox One S delivering 1440p HDR at 60 fps.”
“YouTube HDR on Xbox is using Google’s VP9-2 video codec as opposed to the more recent royalty-free AV1 format that Google, Microsoft, Netflix and other major companies have pledged to support,” FlatpanelsHD added. “During our tests, Xbox Series X failed to decode AV1 videos, although it may be a software limitation that can be fixed through a future update.”
Microsoft originally promised HDR support for Xbox’s YouTube app all the way back in 2017. The lack of HDR for YouTube was an odd omission, being that Xbox consoles already supported high dynamic range content for other streaming services such as Netflix and Prime Video.