YouTube has added experimental support for the fledgling video format, AV1. The video format, which is being developed to replace VP9 and compete with HEVC/H.265, is not yet widely supported but Google wants to be ready by the time browsers add support to stable builds of their browsers between now and 2020.
The YouTube Developers account published a playlist of the first videos to receive AV1 transcodes. In order to experience the video in AV1, you must be running Chrome 70 or Firefox Nightly (builds newer that September 13) with the media.av1.enabled and media.mediasource.experimental.enabled preferences set.
Once you’ve got a supported browser, you also need to head to YouTube TestTube and enable ‘Prefer AV1 for SD’. AV1-transcoded videos will be played on resolutions of 480p or below and then VP9 will be used for higher resolutions.
General users who aren’t interested in trying these early previews will likely be using the new codec in their browser sometime during 2019 or 2020 when browser vendors have pushed support. It’s also very likely that AV1 won’t be restricted to YouTube as those developing it include Amazon, Cisco, Google, Intel, Microsoft, Mozilla, and Netflix; we’ll likely see it used by all of those firms.
YouTube says that its commitment to AV1 is strong and that it has “ambitious” goals for rolling out the new format. It confirmed that the format would be available on more creators’ videos soon.