As streaming has taken over, the AV1 codec has come up as a way to save bandwidth and improve quality going forward. According to a mention from the folks over at Synaptics, YouTube and Netflix apparently have plans to require AV1 at some point in the future.

There’s no date attached to this right now, but Synaptics mentions that AV1 will be required by YouTube and Netflix, the two biggest streaming platforms in the world, at some point. Why mention? It comes as Synaptics announces its VideoSmart VS640 SoC that supports hardware decoding of the AV1 standard. The quote (h/t XDA) reads as follows:

The platform offers the next generation AV1 video decode format – a requirement for future YouTube and Netflix content – and is designed to support the latest version of all major operating system frameworks including Android TV, RDK, Linux and AOSP, enabling service providers to integrate applications and custom user interfaces at their choice.

The implication of this is pretty huge. Effectively, it would mean that a lot of the video streaming hardware we see on the market today will be cut off from Netflix and YouTube once the requirement goes into effect if this ends up being a strict requirement. Alternatively, this could only go into effect for certain types of content, perhaps. That could be years from now, but it’s meaningful all the same.

This also reinforces that, in hindsight, the Chromecast with Google TV launching on a chipset without AV1 decoding was a tough decision. The Amlogic S905X3 chip lacks AV1 entirely, but the newer S905X4 does offer support. That likely means a refresh of some kind is on Google’s horizon, we just don’t know when.

Right now, this remains unconfirmed. It seems totally possible that AV1 could be a requirement for these platforms in time, as both have already adopted it. Netflix integrated AV1 about a year ago on Android devices and Google has already started using AV1 on YouTube, Duo, and other services with plans to expand. Also of note, Google has a requirement that future Android TV devices support the codec.

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Ben Schoon

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