Netflix and YouTube are going to make you finally care about AV1

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Netflix Logo (Image credit: Joe Maring / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • A new report suggests future content from both YouTube and Netflix will require AV1 decoding support.
  • Google is reportedly already asking Android TV device makers to start adding support for AV1 on their gadgets launching later this year.
  • AV1 is a royalty-free video coding format that also boasts significantly better compression than its competitors.

AV1 has been the subject of much interest in recent years — at least as far as interest in obscurely technical topics like video encoding goes. And it's also gaining support from many of the most prominent players in the tech space, with YouTube and Netflix both adding at least partial support on their platforms.

The two biggest players in the video streaming space may soon also require devices to feature built-in hardware-accelerated decoding for AV1, at least according to a new press release by Synaptics. In an unrelated announcement about its new VS640 SoCs (via XDA Developers), the company dropped this little nugget:

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...

YouTube and Netflix haven't yet made such a claim themselves, so it seems like Synaptics may have unwittingly divulged the two companies' future plans.

Nevertheless, it's not like the development is particularly surprising. Google is already working on making the best Android TVs even better by asking manufacturers to add built-in support for AV1 decoding to their devices starting later this year. LG and Samsung have also announced that their latest TVs will support AV1.

If you're not sure what AV1 is all about, by the way, do check out this excellent explanation by our Ara Wagoner. In summary, though, it's a new video format for encoding videos that's royalty-free, making it accessible to open-source projects and much cheaper for device manufacturers to support. On top of all that, it also boasts anywhere from 25-50% improved compression than its competitors. That means higher quality videos for you, even if you're on a slower internet connection.

Muhammad Jarir Kanji