Why Does YouTube Only Show 360p or 720p videos? (Solved)

A lot of people prefer YouTube as the best viewing platform for online videos. Compared to other platforms that host video, YouTube is the only one capable of 4K video streaming.

While YouTube is capable of the highest standards in video streaming, there are times when it can lag or get bogged down. When this happens, you’d often see images that are blurry or difficult to see.

Why does YouTube only show 360p or 720p videos?

YouTube shows 360p or 720p videos because it is adjusting to the Internet bandwidth and speed the device is connected to. If your data plan or your phone cannot handle the requirements of a specific video, the video will not load properly.

YouTube values a smoother viewing over a stuttering experience and will then lower video resolution to provide viewers with less buffering time, and garbled audio.

Four Reasons YouTube May show Videos in Low Resolution:

1. Slow Internet Connection

YouTube adjusts your video based on the device and Internet connection.

It won’t stream in 4K quality if you are using a Smartphone to watch YouTube. This is the site’s way of not eating through your carrier’s data allocation for you.

Basically, because of watching in low resolution, your phone will not use up too much data, as compared to watching in UHD on a computer.

2. The Video Might Be New

YouTube processes a video to correspond to each possible resolution.

It starts with the lowest resolution, moving upwards, thus, a 4K video may take hours before it is available, as compared to a video with 360p resolution, which is available after upload.

3. The Video may Have Been Uploaded with Low-Resolution Settings

This means if you upload a video with a resolution of 720p it will be the largest resolution YouTube can play it in.

Aspiring YouTubers need to be mindful of the acceptable video resolutions they upload, because if the video is not within the prescribed resolution, YouTube will make adjustments for it to fit the screen.

This may result in white bars on both sides of a video, which would be placed just to put an improperly formatted video into the right screen size.

4. The Cache Might be Too Loaded

Having a cache full also contributes to the low quality of streaming.

You should check your cache periodically. If it’s consuming too much space versus your device’s storage, consider clearing it.

This can be done through your browser settings or your app settings on your mobile device.

How Much Bandwidth Do You Need to Watch HD and 4K on YouTube?

To watch videos in HD, you need to have a bandwidth of 4 Mbps.

If you’re not content with HD and want the whole 4K, you need at least 20 Mbps to stream without hiccups.

Note that the published speed on your Internet plan is not the speed you will get daily, but rather the highest speed it can reach.

So if you want to stream consistently at 4K on YouTube, consider getting a plan with high upload and bandwidth allowance.

How Much Bandwidth Do You Need to Live Stream on YouTube?

To stream at 4K and 60 frames per second on YouTube, you need to have a bandwidth of at least 68.8 Mbps.

Live stream quality matters. It shows your viewers how professional you are in your craft. No one wants to watch a video that keeps on hanging or pixelating.

This is why you need to ensure your live videos are clear and understood, and by not scrimping at the quality of video and internet speed, you can keep viewers engaged with your content.

Can I Make YouTube Buffer the Whole Video?

YouTube now only buffers 30 seconds of the total video when paused.

Now, if your Internet connection is slow, this can cause lags in the video you are watching.

Should you want to buffer a whole video before watching, you can install browser plugins or extensions, which force YouTube videos to buffer before playing.

These extensions include SmartVideo for YouTube, which is available for Google Chrome, and the YouTube Control Center for Firefox.

Check out our article that talks about Why Does YouTube Remove Videos?

Why is the Video Quality Bad After Upload?

YouTube processes videos in different resolutions, based on the video file uploaded.

The first video it makes available is the lowest resolution. Videos at the highest possible resolution are made available last and may take a few hours from upload to publish.

Can I Force YouTube to Always Play 1080p or UHD?

Yes, you can control how YouTube plays videos by default!

All you have to do is:

  1. Go to your YouTube settings on the upper right corner
  2. On the settings page, go to playback on the left side
  3. Check the box that says “Always play HD on full screen (when available)

YouTube will now play HD by default the next time you open a video.


YouTube is reducing its default video quality to standard definition for the next month

The minimum internet speeds for streaming video in 2019

What is a good upload speed for streaming?

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