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H.264 and HLS Reign in Online Video, Finds Encoding.com Report

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Offering a snapshot of a streaming video world in transition, Encoding.com releases its 2016 Global Media Format Report today, following up on its 2015 Global Media Delivery Report. Looking at video codecs and containers, the report notes that H.264 is the dominant player with 72 percent of all encoding activity, a lead that expanded this year. It's followed by WebM with a foothold at 12 percent. WebM grew in 2015 thanks to its emergence as the leading way to stream HTML5 video to Chrome, Firefox, and Opera browsers. HEVC and Flash video both took 6 percent. Flash video is on life support, the report says, as its use decreased by 15 percentage points in 2015. The company expects it to disappear entirely within two years.

"The biggest trend we see is the continued demise of Flash, and the continued expansion of HTML5 video in the browser," says Gregg Heil, Encoding.com's founder and CEO. "As for HEVC,  we expect only incremental growth until a major mobile hardware provider adopts the standard (Apple/Samsung). Apple is using HEVC for Facetime on devices that support it, so we could see it emerge in an adaptive context in the future."

Looking at adaptive bitrate streaming, Encoding.com declares HLS the industry standard with 71 percent of encoding activity. Its position for mobile delivery strengthened this past year, as Android 5.0 and 6.0 delivered mature support for it. Smooth Streaming came in second with 19 percent and DASH third with 10 percent. As DASH is part of the HTML5 architecture, Encoding.com sees it used more for browsers.

"With the maturation of HLS on Android, we expect the Apple standard to remain the dominant adaptive packaging format for the foreseeable future," Heil says. "Any shift away from this will require a major transition from device manufacturers. MPEG-DASH is seeing a lift in the browser, but we don’t see this creating a paradigm shift in the near future."

1080p was the most popular resolution in the last year, with 48 percent of encoding use. 720p came next with 38 percent. 4K is still growing, taking a modest 8 percent.

The report also looks at cloud storage trends, cloud transit, digital rights management (DRM), and audio formats. Data is based on the video encoding and transcoding needs of Encoding.com's thousands of clients around the world. Download the full report for free (no registration required).

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