It may still be a few years from now, but it looks like two of the biggest video streaming platforms globally may have a requirement in the future that can affect us all. It seems that YouTube and Netflix may be planning to require the AV1 codec sometime in the future. And while this may not affect us right now, not all of the streaming hardware we have right now have AV1 standard decoding. The codec will help users save bandwidth and improve quality but of course, this will need some adjustments from our devices.
This information was shared by 9 to 5 Google after Synaptics announced its new VideoSmart VS640 SoC. In one of their throwaway announcement quotes, they said that their platform contains the “next generation AV1 video decode format” and that this will be a requirement for “future YouTube and Netflix content”. They did not mention any specific date nor was this confirmed by either YouTube or Netflix, but this is a distinct possibility.
Netflix already integrated AV1 last year for Android devices and Google has already started using the codec on things like YouTube and Duo and they plan to expand to their other services as well. Google also has a requirement now for future Android TV devices to have support for the AV1 codec. This doesn’t confirm that both YouTube and Netflix will require it for all future content but these are signs that we may be getting there sometime in the future.
What this means also is that a lot of the video streaming hardware that are currently in the market will not be able to play Netflix and YouTube if this becomes a strict requirement. Since it’s still some time in the future probably, if true at all, this should probably give both OEMs and users to adjust to this, either by getting new devices or rolling out updates to support the codec (if that’s at all possible).
In any case, this is not something that will be rolled out quickly probably and may still be years from now. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to be prepared especially when looking for new hardware devices to upgrade to in the future.