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DTG: A fork in the road coming for video standards

The DTG's latest State of the Nation report takes a look at how streaming video providers are expected to adopt a different video codec to broadcasters in the near future

In its annual DTG State of the Nation report, the Digital TV Group has suggested the TV and video industry is about to reach in a fork in the road in terms of video standards.

The report, compiled on behalf of the DTG by Futuresource, suggests that following several years of H.264 (AVC) being dominant, there is now a split happening between video codecs used for broadcast and video via broadband or mobile.

“Indeed, the video industry is at an inflexion point, with the newer VVC, EVC and LCEVC standards competing to become credible alternatives to AVC, HEVC and even AV1,” states the report.

LCEVC is a codec which the report states is “one to watch”. “It uses an existing codec to produce a low-resolution base layer and adds another codec in an enhancement layer to boost resolution to the full target and final quality. For instance, a video file encoded with an AVC base layer will be accessible to any TV or STB that can play H.264, even without a LCEVC decoder”, the report explains.

“But add an LCEVC decoder into the device, and it can then receive full resolution and quality,” it adds. “The primary benefit here is that LCEVC offers a credible pathway for transitioning to a newer codec and could even use VVC as the enhancement layer. Many in the industry believe that LCEVC is likely to have an impact because of the more favourable licensing terms. Nevertheless, the best indicator of LCEVC’s viability will not just be in recognition of its potential but through active deployments by top-tier content publishers and streaming service providers.”

The report goes on to suggest that streaming video providers are likely to select AV1 (or the forthcoming AV2) from the Alliance for Open Media (AOM. while broadcasters will favour the MPEG standards, most likely VVC.

8K interest

The State of the Nation report also takes a look at how viewers want to consume content in terms of picture resolution.

It says that while 4K is becoming the new baseline, interest in 8K is “relatively muted”, with less than a quarter of viewers interested in watching content in 8K.

It also states that the UK’s bandwidth is currently not ready for the challenge of 8K content: “A bandwidth saving is crucial for wider 8K adoption over IP, and that will come from the 40 per cent to 50 per cent efficiency improvements gained from a move from HEVC to VVC coding, in tandem with broadband speeds improving as consumers switch to hybrid fibre or full fibre solutions,” said the report.

The full DTG Report is available for download here.