AV1 versus HEVC: What will happen to the video encoders market in 2019?

With Alibaba becoming the latest big tech company to embrace the AV1 video codec as the best solution for UHD and HDR video broadcast services, while the rival HEVC codec continues to do well for live play out, what will happen to the video codec market in 2019?

What will happen to the video encoders market in 2019?
What will happen to the video encoders market in 2019?

LiveU, a leading adopter of HEVC encoder technology, has published its annual ‘State of Live’ report, which states that 25% of its live video traffic worldwide is now HEVC-encoded. The company said these figures reflect the increasing demand for professional-grade video quality, a trend most evident at last summer’s FIFA World Cup™ in Russia.

Live transmission hours have increased overall over the past year with over 2.2 million hours of live video delivered in 2018, representing a 55% surge in hours compared to 2017. These findings, collected for the second year, are based on data gathered from LiveU’s global customer base of 3,000+ users.

The adoption of HD resolution continues to rise as customers reduce their use of SD. UHD/4K resolution is emerging with sports leading the way, most notably in the US, Japan and Western Europe.

Meanwhile, the rival, royalty-free AV1 codec is also gaining support among large tech companies. Alibaba Cloud, the cloud computing arm of giant internet company Alibaba Group, has joined the Alliance for Open Media (AOMedia) as a promoter member. Alibaba teams up with the likes of Netflix, Google, Apple, Amazon, Cisco, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Mozilla and Facebook supporting AV1 in AOMedia.

At the NAB Streaming Summit in New York in October, 2018, members of AOMedia gave a series of demos of AV1. At the event, AOMedia members Google and Mozilla demoed the AV1 codec using Chrome and Firefox. AV1 is backed by nearly 40 companies, including some of the largest in the internet, tech, and video industries.

AOMedia claims AV1 marks a significant shift in the balance of power in online entertainment. It said that while HEVC offers good compatibility across devices and platforms, the newest AV1 standard promises a much higher compression efficiency and thereby also a better user experience.

In 2019, the rivalry is set to continue.

Posted by Chris Dickinson, technology journalist and editor of the Always On blog. January 8, 2019.

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