This article is part 4 of the "21 Thoughts on Video Streaming in 2021"-series.
Whilst better codecs exist I predict 2021 will the large growth in HEVC out of convenience for small-mid publishers. Many major TV manufacturers added HEVC support since 2019 models and with both mobile platforms publishers will conclude HEVC has the widest range of device support (for right now) to support UHD/4K rollouts. Many publishers will skew to CTV as their primary device where audience and session times continue to grow and better quality is demanded.
HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding / H.265) is a video codec and the successor of H.264. A good video codec gets the video file size as low as possible, while still retaining the original video quality. (And HEVC does a better job at this than H.264.)
The problem is that not all platforms support all video codecs. For example, Safari supports HEVC (and H.264), but not AV1. Chrome supports AV1 (and VP9 and H.264), but not HEVC.
One of the evolutions in the smart TV space is that almost all of modern TVs support the HEVC video codec. HEVC is also a popular video codec to deliver 4K (and 8K) video. (Note that H.264 is by far the most widely supported video codec.)
Actually, Chrome is one of the few platforms which don't support HEVC.
It's true. Your Smart TV probably has support for HEVC (also known as H.265). Most streaming services should embrace this to deliver efficient video qualities.
However, I think AV1 (a newer video codec) will overtake HEVC before the majority of the streaming services understand (and use) with HEVC. (Why? I feel like the Googles of the world (+the community) are pushing AV1 too much, and they will most likely prevail.)
Related to HEVC (versus H.264 versus VP9 versus AV1 versus ...), it's challenging for streaming services to nail out their multi-codec strategy.
- You need to create a stream with multiple codecs - and most likely different types of streams. Not all "production tools" allow these.
- Your storage and encoding costs go up.
- Your video player needs to be able to select the optimal quality and codec.
While popular streaming services are able to solve (and finance) a multi-codec strategy, it's often a difficult feat for "everyone else".