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Netflix delivers AV1 streaming to TVs

Netflix said it has seen significant compression efficiency improvements from AV1, with noticeable drops in quality reduced by up to 38 per cent

Netflix has started delivering AOMedia Video 1 (AV1) streaming to viewers watching on TV platforms.

In a blog post, the company said it has been working to bring AV1 streaming to Netflix since the specification was published in 2018.

Netflix first launched the technology on its Android mobile app using the open-source software decoder dav1d, built by the VideoLAN, VLC and FFmpeg communities and sponsored by AOMedia. “We were very pleased to see that AV1 streaming improved members’ viewing experience, particularly under challenging network conditions,” the company said.

It has now begun streaming AV1 to TVs by embedding a stream analyser in the encoding pipeline to ensure all deployed Netflix AV1 streams are spec-compliant. “TVs with an AV1 decoder also need to have decoding capabilities that meet the spec requirement to guarantee smooth playback of AV1 streams,” the blog noted.

The launch brings AV1 streaming to tens of millions of Netflix members thanks to a suite of tools providing summarised metrics for streaming sessions. These dashboards allow the company to monitor and analyse trends over time as members stream AV1.

“Additionally, the Data Science and Engineering team built a dedicated AV1 alerting system which detects early signs of issues in key metrics and automatically sends alerts to teams for further investigation,” added the company. “Given AV1 streaming is at a relatively early stage, these tools help us be extra careful to avoid any negative member experience.”

Netflix saw significant compression efficiency improvements from AV1, with noticeable drops in quality reduced by up to 38 per cent and the duration of 4K video streaming increased by 5 per cent.

“We want our members to have brilliant playback experiences, and our players are designed to adapt to the changing network conditions,” Netflix added. “When the current condition cannot sustain the current video quality, our players can switch to a lower bitrate stream to reduce the chance of a playback interruption. Given AV1 consumes less bandwidth for any given quality level, our players are able to sustain the video quality for a longer period of time and do not need to switch to a lower bitrate stream as much as before.”

The blog said the next step is to work with external partners to enable AV1 streaming on more devices, as well as exploring the possibilities of AV1 with HDR.