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Google temporarily limits purchased movie playback on web to 480p w/ YouTube

Thanks to syncing and account linking, all of your Google Play Movie & TV purchases can be accessed on YouTube. This is a really neat aspect of the Google “ecosystem” but it looks like playback is being limited to just 480p on YouTube temporarily — even if you purchased HD versions of your favorite movies.

According to Android Police, this temporary limit has been in place since early last week. When playing previously-purchased HD media from Google Play Movies, the YouTube player is limiting playback to 480p. No other options for higher resolution playback are available — such as 720p and 1080p. Other reports online hint that this is not a limited issue either, with complaints of this over on Twitter too.

YouTube’s responded to the initial queries to confirm that HD playback has been disabled temporarily due to a “technical issue” that the streaming site’s engineers have found. Naturally, no further details were shared on the specifics but they did confirm that the limit will be removed once the issue is resolved. It’s not actually clear if TV shows are also hit with a similar 480p playback limit, or if this issue just affects movies.

So, to summarize, when playing purchased movies and shows from Google Play Movies on the desktop version of YouTube, you’ll hit a 480p playback quality limit. This doesn’t seem to be affecting other devices like mobile (both Android and iOS), Android TV or Chromecast hardware.

If you are seeing problems with playback quality, then we’d suggest trying another device — at least until the problem is resolved.

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Avatar for Damien Wilde Damien Wilde

Damien is a UK-based video producer for 9to5Google. Find him on Twitter @iamdamienwilde. Email

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