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Video: Dynamic Codec Management and the Emerging Multi-Codec World

Learn more about multi-codec delivery at the next Content Delivery Summit.

Watch Peter Chave's keynote, The Future of TV Delivery, on the Streaming Media Conference Video Portal.

Read the complete transcript from this video:

Peter Chave: We live in an H.264 world where there really aren't a lot of other things. Why? Because it was there when we started doing OTT. All of our catalogs are encoded in it. It worked well for the way the world was working at the time. Why? 98% of devices support H.264, we don't have to worry about it, it's got global coverage.

HEVC, on the other hand, is used for the biggest, it's there in the distance. It's used for those 4K events. It's used to feed devices that have hardware in them that can support it. AV1 is used for user-generated and for other stuff, so it's kind of in the distance there, but in terms of for OTT broadcast video applications, H.264 dominates the 'net, the world.

Part of the reason HEVC is not as ubiquitous is the regulatory world, the whole patent pool and licensing problems which I'm going to get to in a second, but it's there because when we have to go to a 4K, we have to go to a format. We just can't get the quality of the bits with HEVC. We're going to move to that newer CodeEV.

So, by 2022, I think the landscape will have changed. I think we will have a more verdant valley. We won't just have this desert of H.264. H.264 is absolutely still going to be there. We're not going to go back and transcode all of this old content. But there will be more HEVC hills. There'll be AV1 hills, there'll be EVC hills, and there will be VVC hills.

So I think we will live in a much more multi-codec world, whereas we've in OTT at least, we haven't had to embrace that, unlike what we've had to do in the broadcasting industry in the past. I think our reckoning is coming there.

How are we going to handle all these codecs? Again, cloud transcode has got very ubiquitous and very, very inexpensive. I think with edge servers being able to give us feedback about who's consuming what data, and then applying business logic rules that say, if I have a device that can now needs lower bandwidth, I can spin up and create those in real time and put them into my storage when it makes business sense to do it.

Also, as other devices appear on the network which can have a better experience, I will then go back and get my mezz, and I will make higher-quality experiences to feed those devices. As devices, say laptops which can support, say, AV1 up here, and it makes business sense for me to do, to pay for the storage, and the transcode versus the delivery, I will spin up other renditions in other formats which look better and feed those devices in a nicer way. When a big smart TV that can do a really nice HDR 4K experience, I'm going to spin up higher bitrates in those higher formats when it makes business sense to do that.

I think this is the way that we're going to handle multi-codecs in the future and as popularity of content drops off, and as content falls out of the catalog, we will make trim rules and we will automatically manage the cache and manage the origin so we're not storing bits forever and ever as we tend to do today in these giant libraries in every possible format we may possibly need. I think it will be much more dynamic.

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