Google will require new Android TV devices launching from April 2021 to support AV1, the video format that it has co-developed with industry juggernauts. Netflix and YouTube will reportedly also require AV1.
AV1 is gaining momentum
Amazon, Apple TV+, Disney+, Netflix and others (not YouTube) are currently using the HEVC (H.265) format to stream video in 4K HDR. It is the official successor to MPEG4 (H.264).
The next step? It is looking increasingly likely that it is AV1, which was developed by the Alliance for Open Media with industry juggernauts like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Mozilla, and Netflix as members.
Google is now requiring that all 4K Android TV devices launching on Android 10 must support AV1 decoding, and starting from April 2021 all new Android TV devices must support AV1 (at minimum 60fps for the display resolution of the TV). That is according to twitter user Android TV Guide.
FlatpanelsHD has this week seen internal documentation that corroborates the reports.
In that light, it is no surprise that all of Sony's 2021 Google TVs will support AV1 even though Sony has not publicly committed to the alliance. Philips is also specifying AV1 support for its 2021 Android TVs while LG and Samsung started to implement it in 2020. You can check which TV models come with AV1 support in FlatpanelsHD's TV Database (under 'OS & features').
Philips 2021 Android TV will also support AV1
Netflix and YouTube
As noted by XDA Developers, chip supplier Synaptics has also let slip that AV1 support is "a requirement for future YouTube and Netflix content".
Google-owned YouTube is already requiring AV1 for 8K video streaming on 8K TVs. As for Netflix, it could be something similar or it could be related to the company's 'Netflix Recommended' certification program. We are not sure yet. Netflix serves some content in AV1 to compatible Android mobile devices and says that it will eventually "roll out AV1 on all of our platforms".
AV1 is royalty-free and is 20-40% more efficient than HEVC, depending on who you ask. Those efficiency gains can be translated into better video quality at the same bitrate or the same video quality at lower bitrates.
- Source: Android TV Guide, XDA Developers, Synaptics