Netflix is embracing the AV1 video codec developed in partnership with Apple, Amazon, Google and others. Android mobile devices will be the first to benefit from "20% improved compression efficiency" over VP9.
Netflix's first step
AV1 was developed as a royalty-free video codec for SD, HD, 4K, HDR, and 8K streaming by the Alliance for Open Media, which includes companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Mozilla, and of course Netflix.
At CES 2020 last month, Samsung and LG announced that some 2020 TVs will have AV1 decoding for YouTube's 8K streaming. Netflix has also committed to supporting AV1 but it is taking a different approach by rolling out AV1 first in the mobil space on Android mobile devices.
- "Today we are excited to announce that Netflix has started streaming AV1 to our Android mobile app. AV1 is a high performance, royalty-free video codec that provides 20% improved compression efficiency over our VP9 encodes," said Netflix.
The company said that AV1 currently offers a 20% improvement in compression efficiency, which means that it can reduce the bitrate by roughly 20% without sacrificing picture quality compared to Google's VP9 codec that it is currently using on mobile. Besides VP9, Netflix is also utilizing HEVC (for 4K HDR) and MPEG4 AVC.
AV1 on all platforms
As of now, AV1 is used only for selected titles - it is unclear which ones - on Android mobile devices, and only if users enable the 'Save Data' feature.
Netflix said that its goal is to roll out AV1 on all platforms but it refrained from providing a timeline just yet. It added that it is working with device and chipset makers to implement AV1 support in hardware.
- "While our goal is to roll out AV1 on all of our platforms, we see a good fit for AV1’s compression efficiency in the mobile space where cellular networks can be unreliable, and our members have limited data plans."
The company explained that its Android app is using the open source dav1d decoder built by VideoLAN, VLC, and FFmpeg, and sponsored by the Alliance for Open Media.
Following AV1 hardware support in some 2020 TVs, Netflix's announcement is an important milestone for the new video format that was released in 2018. LG, Google/YouTube, Facebook, Mozilla, Netflix and Samsung have all started employing AV1. Last month, Philips (TP Vision) confirmed to FlatpanelsHD that it is also committed supporting AV1 in future TVs.
- Source: Netflix