YouTube has begun transcoding videos into the AV1 video codec and has created an AV1 beta launch playlist to test the same, yesterday.
Why does the AV1 format matter?
This transcoding aims to significantly reduce video stream bandwidths without loss in quality while exceeding the compression standards set by even HEVC. Google was opposed to using HEVC due to its high royalty costs. To combat this, the company developed its own VP9 format in 2012 for HD and 4K HDR video which saw limited uptake outside of Google’s own properties.
AV1 now replaces both HEVC and VP9. The AV1 initiative was announced in 2015, where internet giants like Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Mozilla, Netflix, and several others joined forces to develop a ‘next gen’ video format.
Besides better compression as compared to VP (and HEVC), AV1 has a royalty-free license. This could lead to reducing the operating-cost savings for YouTube and other video streaming services. Since video streaming contributes to a massive chunk of total internet traffic, even a small improvement in compression can have massive effects on the network as well as on user experience. AV1 also provides an architecture for both moving and still images. More widespread support and adoption of the AV1 software is projected for 2020.
YouTube users of the new AV1 format will not notice a reduction in their data consumption just yet, because the first batch of videos has been encoded at a very high bitrate to test performance. Future playlists could, however, test the CODEC’s other more important aspects- data savings.
To watch the videos in AV1, users will have to use Chrome 70 or Firefox 63 that were both recently updated to support AV1. YouTube also mentions that AV1 videos are currently available in 480p SD only, switching to VP9 for higher resolutions.
Head over to YouTube’s official site for more coverage on the news.
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