Netflix today announced that it is beginning to stream videos compressed using the AV1 codec, on its Android mobile app. AV1 is a next-generation, royalty-free video codec that provides compression efficiency that is improved by 20%. This codec, developed to replace VP9, was built by the Alliance for Open Media, of which Netflix, Google, Amazon Prime Video, and more big-name content providers are a part of.
The video streaming giant notes that it intends to roll out AV1 content on all its platforms. It adds that the codec is suitable for the mobile space as cellular networks can be “unreliable” and that their customers have limited data plans. The increased compression efficiency results in the consumption of comparatively less data, so it makes sense to roll it out to the mobile app.
Netflix adds that their AV1 codec “leverages the open-source dav1d decoder built by the VideoLAN, VLC, and FFmpeg communities and sponsored by the Alliance for Open Media”. The company says that it has optimized the decoder so that it can play Netflix’s 10-bit color content. It is also sponsoring an open-source effort to “optimize 10-bit performance further” for making the advancements made available to all entities that leverage the codec.
Currently, only select titles are available for streaming using AV1. Users that wish to try out content streamed using AV1, or those that would like to reduce cellular data consumed by their content can do so by enabling the “Save Data” feature in the app. With adoption slowly beginning to increase for this video codec, even at the hardware level, and improvements being made by the contributors, it will be interesting to see how viable a replacement would it be to VP9, or even HEVC/H.265, for that matter.