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How Twitch Delivers and Packages VP9

Learn more about emerging codecs at Streaming Media's next event.

Watch the complete presentation from Streaming Media East, VES201. Multiple Codec Live Streaming at Twitch, in the Streaming Media Conference Video Portal.

Read the complete transcript of this clip:

Nikhil Purushe: We're delivering VP9 in fragmented MP4. So, on all our H.264 streams today, you'll see that they're a traditional MPEG transport stream. So this is a key change for us and an opportunity for us to modernize our delivery format. So we've actually combined fragmented MP4 with HLS.

Around 2016, Apple added fragmented MP4 support into the HLS specification, and we're kind of taking advantage of that. Of course, one key thing here is VP9 is not supported by Apple but the HLS specification is flexible enough, in terms of the codec string and the file formats, that you can deliver fragmented MP4 through HLS.

The spec for delivering VP9 in MP4 is, I've linked this here, it's actually very straightforward. I think it took us only a small amount of time to add this into our packaging solution. And of course you can check your web browser if you use a Media Source Extensions API. You can do a very simple check if VP9 is supported in the MP4 container using this very simple code snippet.

So, as you mentioned, a lot of browsers do support fragmented MP4 with VP9, Chrome, Firefox, now Edge. And this goes back at least six months or so, so most modern browsers will support this, that support VP9. Of course, our container choice, why did we choose fragmented MP4? We have a lot of packaging and tooling around fragmented MP4 already that we had been developing, for example with our DRM streams. It's compatible with HLS, whereas WebM is not.

We'd also like to use this same kind of packaging solution to deliver other codecs, so for example, if you wanted to deliver HEVC to iOS devices, we would need to use fragmented MP4. For also an experiment with AV1, this is the container that most people would be using to deliver AV1 instead of WebM, even though WebM does support AV1 as well.

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