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EuclidIQ: 2016 Online Video Industry Predictions

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By the end of 2015, the streaming media industry showed signs of strain, as video consumption growth outpaced even the most robust estimates. This led to an acute awareness of the need to eke out additional bandwidth savings for a variety of content types.

Many techniques were tried in 2015. Netflix, for instance, made headlines with its title-based approach, which assesses each title and encodes it accordingly (e.g., animation, action movies, sports, etc.) on a per-title bitrate ladder. An interesting approach, but as we enter 2016, the industry needs a more refined approach to better compression.

This will be done, in part, at the intersection of new encoding algorithms matched up to existing open-source encoders. Our new plugin for the x264 encoder, IQ264x, employs perceptual quality optimization (PQO) to further enhance video quality or gain additional bandwidth savings, without requiring multiple re-encodes to discover the optimal encoding bandwidth (just above what we call the Video Quality Breakdown Bitrate or VQBB).

The industry has only just begun to explore the potential of PQO. To best balance performance, bandwidth reduction, and quality improvements, new solutions need to work closely with the encoder, eliminating the need for postprocessing steps. Any PQO technique done in a post-encode environment can only yield results as good as the encodes they need to work with, but PQO integrated into the encoding process has the potential to yield better quality encodes. Eliminating post-processing steps also positively impacts encoding performance.

PQO is not just limited to H.264, and we are exploring the options of providing these bandwidth savings gains to other codecs, since PQO is inherently codec-agnostic.

Beyond the encoder,  though, PQO is really just a first step in a process to significantly enhance quality and further reduce bandwidth across the entire acquisition and distribution video workflow.

To do this, PQO needs to be implemented at the point of acquisition. That level of sophistication means that PQO  could enhance the overall viewing experience, and our world-class team of researchers and software engineers is taking on that challenge as we enter 2016, a year of significant inflection for the streaming industry as a whole.

See the rest of 2016's Executive Predictions in "Related Articles" below, or you can download the entire batch as a PDF.

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