We are used to hearing about video streaming platforms and rating the picture quality they offer. If they are compatible with this or that HDR standard, if they have 4K content … but one aspect that is really important is the codec used. An aspect that Netflix is now improving by adopting the AV1 codec.
Along with the quality or breadth of the catalog, the platforms are also looking for greater efficiency when streaming content, which in particular allows the use of the AV1 codec. A more efficient system already proven in mobiles which allows lower band consumption especially in 4K resolutions and which now reaches televisions after having passed through cell phones.
From mobiles to televisions
Before continuing, remember that the AV1 codec, which stands for AOMedia Video 1, was developed by the Alliance for Open Media and endorsed by Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Mozilla, and Netflix. A codec which is a significant improvement over the VP9, which was the one I have been using so far. An interesting free and royalty-free alternative to VP9 and HEVC.
The AV1 codec is now coming to Netflix on some TVs and desktop devices after being used on mobile devices, a platform on which it makes even more sense to depend on data rates in many cases. The AV1 video format improves the performance offered by VP9 and HEVC by up to 40% by having a more efficient compression method, thus requiring less bandwidth to send the same resolution.
In addition, with the use of AV1, they claimed that it is possible to reduce the time to onset of reproduction by 2%, as well as reduce by up to 38% the drop in quality that can occur in some times of reception due to bandwidth issues.
Netflix has indicated that all content based on the AV1 codec is encoded with 10-bit color, in the maximum resolution offered by the source and with the original frame rate they present, including those at high frame rates. ‘images or HFR, although at the moment it seems that they do not have HDR.
However, there are two nuances to be made, as this is not an easy process. On the one hand, a large amount of content has to be recoded from the original sources, it’s a process that takes hours. In this sense, the platform says that support for AV1 will come first for the most popular titles.
On the other hand, the arrival of content with the AV1 codec will benefit users who access Netflix from certain televisions and from the PS4 Pro. And this is the only negative aspect, the devices which for the moment will be able to benefit from this improvement, because few televisions are compatible and able to decode AV1. Anyone who is not will continue to use HEVC and MPEG4 AVC.
For now, all TVs with Android TV released since March 31 of this year are compatible, as well as Amazon’s Fire TV Stick 4K Max or select Samsung TV models.
Netflix is pumping up the batteries to improve streaming quality over rivals such as Amazon Prime Video, Disney +, Apple TV +, and HBO Max, platforms used in many cases HEVC / H.265 over H. 264 from Netflix. used in Full HD and lower resolutions if the content did not have a 4K version.
Via | Netflix