Netflix announced today that it’s beginning to stream video using AV1 on Android. This high-performance, royalty-free codec provides 20% improved compression efficiency over VP9.
Developed by the Alliance for Open Media, founding members include Google, Netflix, and Amazon — all large video providers. Netflix says its “goal is to roll out AV1 on all of our platforms.” In starting on mobile, the service cites how “cellular networks can be unreliable” and “limited data plans.” That is particularly the case for subscribers abroad, a key growth market. This results in an overall “good fit for AV1’s compression efficiency.”
At launch, the “Save Data” option — More tab > App Settings > Cellular Data Usage — must be set in the Android client. Netflix only specifies “selected titles” as being available to stream over AV1.
Our AV1 support on Android leverages the open-source dav1d decoder built by the VideoLAN, VLC, and FFmpeg communities and sponsored by the Alliance for Open Media. Here we have optimized dav1d so that it can play Netflix content, which is 10-bit color. In the spirit of making AV1 widely available, we are sponsoring an open-source effort to optimize 10-bit performance further and make these gains available to all.
Moving forward, Netflix’s AV1 usage will expand to more use cases as “codec performance improves over time.” The service is already working with “device and chipset partners to extend this into hardware.”
AV1 streaming today is also available on YouTube.com. Under “Playback and performance,” there is Auto, Prefer AV1 for SD, or Always prefer AV1. The middle tier is capped to 480p with VP9 still handling higher resolutions. Meanwhile, Google warns that AV1 in HD requires a “powerful computer,” and that not all content is available.
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