YouTube Introduces Proprietary VP9 Codec for 4K Streaming

Sections: CES, CES 2014, Streaming, TVs, Video

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YouTube 4K Smart TVYouTube tried to introduce their own video codec a few years back. Commercial use almost always requires a royalty payment to the content owner, and that can mean tens, or even hundreds of millions of dollars in savings to a massive frame-shoveler like YouTube. VP9 Google’s royalty-free video-compression standard sidesteps that issue. The mistake they made the last time they tried this, was that they failed to partner up with hardware manufacturers to make sure hardware acceleration was ready to go in smartphones, tablets, and GPUs. This time, it appears Google has not made the same mistake, as GigaOM found out:

This time around, Google has lined up a whole list of hardware partners to kickstart VP9 deployment. YouTube will show off 4K streaming at the [CES] booths of LG, Panasonic and Sony. And on Thursday, YouTube released a list of 19 hardware partners that have pledged to support VP9, including chipset vendors like ARM, Intel, Broadcom and Marvell as well as consumer electronics heavyweights like Samsung, Sharp and Toshiba.

YouTube will be showcasing 4K at its booth using the new codec at CES 2014, and they hope that support will be widespread enough that “By 2015, you’ll be surprised every time you see that spinning wheel,” says the company.  YouTube doesn’t expect the codec to be adopted overnight, and is totally open to adding H.265 support to their 4K offerings in the future. They’ll take the benefits where they can get them, and if consumers and CE partners like it, so much the better. 4K isn’t going to be a picnic by any means for the service, which already suffers from buffering issues during peak hours. So the more they can do in advance to alleviate it, the better for everyone. Maybe even those ISPs who may or may not be throttling streaming video might let off the hammer a bit too?


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