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Survey: The Impact of Apple's HEVC Adoption

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Are you wondering how much impact Apple’s decision to add HEVC into HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) had on the streaming publishing community’s intent to deploy HEVC? A recent survey of Streaming Media readers revealed that for 66.2% of respondents, Apple’s move had a significant influence, and up to 62.5% may add HEVC to HLS by the end of 2018. These are just two of the many findings detailed in a report jointly released today by Harmonic, Inc. and Unisphere Research. The report, titled "The Impact of Apple’s HEVC Adoption: A Survey-Based Report," includes responses from more than 600 Streaming Media readers.

The eight-page report, available for download here, also gauged producer interest in the Alliance for Open Media (AOM) AV1 codec, with more than 66% of respondents showing significant interest. And though more than 25% of respondents currently distribute video encoded with HEVC, 74% reported that “known or unknown content royalties” was a significant concern regarding deploying HEVC via HLS.

“More than five years after the launch of HEVC, total royalty costs are still unknown, which continues to stifle adoption of the codec,” said Jan Ozer, survey and report author and Streaming Media contributing editor. "As a result, 33% of respondents planned to add AV1 in 2018 and beyond, and that was before Apple joined AOM, which will only increase interest. An additional 27.3% said the same about VP9. Clearly, the best thing the HEVC IP community could do to promote HEVC adoption is nail down the royalty structure and costs.”

HEVC adoption was also slowed by several other factors, like the additional encoding costs associated with HEVC encoding and confusion regarding how to address legacy HLS endpoints. Specifically, when asked how they would handle legacy devices, 48.3% answered that they didn’t know, indicating the need for market education on this point. Those eschewing HEVC resorted to a number of other technologies to achieve the same benefit, like content-aware encoding, and other bitrate reduction systems.

Though interest in AV1 was strong, adoption is not a slam dunk. Respondents indicated substantial concerns about comparative quality, playback performance, and encoding time. Surprisingly, concern over potential intellectual property issues was not a significant obstacle. “Pundits and patent groups have been crying wolf over potential IP issues with open-source codecs since before VP8,” commented Ozer. “With Amazon, Cisco, Google, Intel, Microsoft, Mozilla, Netflix, and now Apple in the Alliance for Open Media, it seems that the publishing community doesn’t feel that the threat of an IP challenge is real.“

The survey also gauged interest in other codecs, and V-NOVA PERSEUS, Divideon xvc, and RealNetworks RealMedia HD were all mentioned, though 53.8% of respondents were not planning on adding any codecs at this time. Interest in High Dynamic Range (HDR) video appears to be burgeoning; though only 9.8% of respondents were distributing HDR at the end of 2017, 50.6% planned to distribute HDR by the end of 2018, with 49.4% having no plans for extending beyond standard dynamic range.

The Impact of Apple’s HEVC Adoption: A Survey-Based Report," is available for download today. 

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