A sampling system used to digitize the luminance and color difference components (Y, R-Y, B-Y) of a video signal. The 4 represents the 13.5 MHz (74.25 MHz at HD) sampling frequency of Y while the R- Y and B-Y are sampled at 6.75 MHz (37.125 MHz); effectively on every other line only (ie one line is sampled at 4:0:0, luminance only, and the next at 4:2:2).
This is used when the video data rate needs to be reduced. It decreases the overall data by 25 percent against 4:2:2 sampling and the color information has a reasonably even resolution in both the vertical and horizontal directions. 4:2:0 is widely used in MPEG-2 coding meaning that the broadcast and DVD digital video seen at home is usually sampled this way. 625 DV and DVCAM coding also use 4:2:0. However the different H and V chroma bandwidths make it inappropriate for post applications.
See also: 4:1:1, 4:2:2,