YouTube Videos Go Widescreen

In the unlikely event that you've gone more than a day watching a YouTube video, the next time you see one you'll probably notice that it's going to look a little different. Yesterday, YouTube switched all of its videos over to a larger-sized player window with a widescreen format.

In a blog post announcing the new look for YouTube, "The YouTube Team" offered the following information:

Bigger Isn't Always Better... But in This Case, We Believe It Is

Over the years we've heard a lot of feedback from you about what you'd like to change about YouTube, and the size of our video player is always top of mind. That's why today we're excited to announce a bigger YouTube player.

We're expanding the width of the page to 960 pixels to better reflect the quality of the videos you create and the screens that you use to watch them. This new, wider player is in a widescreen aspect ratio which we hope will provide you with a cleaner, more powerful viewing experience. And don't worry, your 4:3 aspect ratio videos will play just fine in this new player.

As always, we welcome your feedback and encourage you to share your thoughts with us on this exciting, new change happening for all videos on YouTube.

Have fun watching!
The YouTube Team

We spent a little bit of time this morning randomly picking YouTube videos to get a sense of how many widescreen videos were available. Our unscientific survey tells us that there aren't many available yet. The overwhelming majority of available videos are still in the 4:3 aspect ratio. But what this means is that 4:3 aspect ratio videos now play back in a widescreen window with black bars on either side of the window. We even found a few videos where black bars were around all sides of the video, indicating that the original video was widescreen, but "letterboxed" so as to fit in the original 4:3 aspect ratio-based YouTube window.

We intended to embed an example of one of the new YouTube widescreen videos with this news post, but in the process we discovered a problem. The default embed code provided for YouTube videos still uses a 4:3 aspect ratio, so embedded videos that are widescreen will actually appear in letterbox format in a 4:3 aspect ratio window. You'll need to click though the widescreen video sample below to see the video in its non-letterbox, true widescreen format on the YouTube site itself.

 YouTube widescreen video

The feedback to this format switch appears to be mixed. Many users, however, are complaining that they don't like the way their 4:3 aspect ratio-based videos look in the new widescreen window and would prefer if YouTube would give them the option of choosing either a 4:3 or 16:9 window when they upload videos. Other users who had previously uploaded 16:9 aspect ratio videos that were letterboxed to fit the 4:3 window are less than thrilled that their videos now have black bars on all four sides, instead of just the top and bottom.

 YouTube 4:3 video

If you haven't seen the new YouTube video window format yet, we encourage you to take a look and then let us know what you think about this new format in the comments section below.