Technology

Could H.266/VVC put H.265 challenges behind it and be successful?

Could H.266/VVC put H.265 challenges behind it and be successful?

Could H.266/VVC put H.265 challenges behind it and be successful?

Could H.266/VVC put H.265 challenges behind it and be successful?

Chris Wood

7 min read

|

7 Jul 2020

Fraunhofer have announced that they’ve been working with a bunch of other prominent names in the industry (including the likes of Apple, Ericsson, Intel, Huawei, Microsoft, Qualcomm, and Sony) on the development of the successor for H.265/HEVC. The new codec will be aptly named H.266/VVC. VVC standing for Versatile Video Coding.

Features of H.266/VVC include:

- 50% greater level of encoding efficiency versus H.265/HEVC

- Support for HD, UHD and 8K and larger (12K / 14K) resolutions

- HDR / 10bit support

- Immersive 360 video capable

To understand whether H.266/VVC is going to change our lives – it’s probably worth understanding the background – and most importantly, the challenges faced by its predecessor.

H.265/HEVC became reality in early 2013 when it was approved as an MPEG and ITU-T standard – but took a bit of a beating with negative press around complexities of its licensing pool. With all parties looking to make a few dollars to cover the investment (rightfully so), the logic to figure out charges became difficult to calculate, not to mention incredibly costly at almost 10x more than the predecessor H.264/AVC. With costs stacking up at encode and decode stages – it was quickly losing traction and support before it really made it out of the gate.

The unfolding situation created yet more fragmentation in the market as those opposed to the fee structure and confused with how to price it, branched off to evaluate AV1 as an open source alternative. Sadly for AV1 – the support required in browsers and devices just isn’t there yet, and with no ability to support a raft of already in market devices and platforms, service providers and content distributors couldn’t agree on the effort to re-encode huge libraries of content to AV1. This isn’t a simple re-encapsulation after all.

As evangelists and architects, it was fairly well understood, that widespread HEVC support won’t be achieved without major industry shifts from manufacturers of streaming servers, transcoders and compatible hardware, and the pace of adoption just wasn’t there for this to take off in any reasonable time frame. Could we argue that the major players refused to drive this forward until the licensing complexities had been resolved? Perhaps.

H.266/VVC has some challenges and hurdles it needs to address out of the gate.

Licensing and Royalties

To prevent another H.265/HEVC re-run – the industry needs agreement on royalties and pricing – and more critically, a simplified structure of calculation. Historically, royalty payments were skewed towards equipment and device manufacturers, so for service providers and those distributing content – fees were minimal and simple to calculate with most wrapped up in a player licensing fee – or payable at the hardware (consumer electronics) level.

Performance

Leveraging new codecs and compressions standards carries a cost of processing in two areas: encode and decode. Starting with the former – the compute capabilities required to mass encode H.265/HEVC for a use case such as live simulcast were pretty significant. H.265 came along at a time where most hardware encoders (with the exception of the likes of Elemental) had no onboard GPU or hardware acceleration. Encoding a raft of linear channels therefore vastly increased the compute capacity required – and as a result, cost. For the service provider looking to make the switch – the cost benefit ratio of investment in hardware against offsetting the CDN bill with lower data rates just didn’t stack up. Most viewed that a CDN pricing renegotiation would net them the same savings without the upheaval.

Moving to the latter and decode performance – support for H.265/HEVC at the device also used a little more juice – sometimes a lot more juice on older devices that were performance constrained. For those decoding H.265/HEVC in hardware – the performance and battery penalty was negligible – but the reality was that few devices supported this. Samsung introduced the Exynos 5 Octa 5430 in August 2014 and Apple quickly followed suit with the A8 chipset in September 2014 where it first made an appearance in the iPhone 6. For those decoding in software – the performance hit was significant – especially in older devices. This led many service providers to take a back seat until adoption in hardware and devices had evolved to be a little more mainstream.

For H.266/VVC to fly – the equipment manufacturers need to step up and offer support in hardware for decoding – and critically – with a reasonable time to market.

Media Preparation

The introduction of any new encoding standard is a significant headache for any content provider. Although many modern media preparation chains leverage a just in time encapsulation (packaging) process the source assets still leveraging a standard encoding format – nearly all still based on H.264 because of the need to support legacy devices and backwards compatibility with an older generation of products.

Media preparation for live (linear simulcast) is a little simpler as there is no need to manage historical libraries of content. However, to transform a catalogue of VOD assets in HD and 4K renditions that are encoded to H.264 is no small task – with a big financial cost attached. As many service providers offload traditional on premise encoding resources to cloud based services that charge price per minute – the huge volumes of long form assets make this a significant one time hit.

To add some extra hot sauce – will a provider that has recently gone through the motions to transcode from H.264 to H.265 swallow this pill easily? It’s likely to be viewed as an investment not worth taking.

Device Support

This could be viewed as the biggest hurdle we’re going to face. Support for H.266/VVC is going to be very limited for the next few years – but as devices and products come to market with support – we’re going to be in a better position.

I see the use case of live (linear simulcast) being more palatable than VOD given there is no need to re-transcode a historical library.

That said, the challenge will be support for this new codec technology in legacy devices and platforms. With many service providers still unable to serve varying renditions and codecs based on device capabilities – we will need to see either more mainstream support for H.266/VVC or some changes to the application stacks of in market OTT services to make this viable.

Summary

For a content provider to make the leap to move to H.266/VVC – any uncertainty regards licensing and royalties, backwards compatibility and performance need to be ironed out. It’s great to see some significant names like Apple, Intel and Qualcomm on the supporting roster. As chipset manufacturers and those that will take responsibility for decode in hardware – they are key to driving adoption.

If history has taught us anything – it’s that this process may not be as smooth or timely as we perhaps hope and believe.

Fraunhofer have announced that they’ve been working with a bunch of other prominent names in the industry (including the likes of Apple, Ericsson, Intel, Huawei, Microsoft, Qualcomm, and Sony) on the development of the successor for H.265/HEVC. The new codec will be aptly named H.266/VVC. VVC standing for Versatile Video Coding.

Features of H.266/VVC include:

- 50% greater level of encoding efficiency versus H.265/HEVC

- Support for HD, UHD and 8K and larger (12K / 14K) resolutions

- HDR / 10bit support

- Immersive 360 video capable

To understand whether H.266/VVC is going to change our lives – it’s probably worth understanding the background – and most importantly, the challenges faced by its predecessor.

H.265/HEVC became reality in early 2013 when it was approved as an MPEG and ITU-T standard – but took a bit of a beating with negative press around complexities of its licensing pool. With all parties looking to make a few dollars to cover the investment (rightfully so), the logic to figure out charges became difficult to calculate, not to mention incredibly costly at almost 10x more than the predecessor H.264/AVC. With costs stacking up at encode and decode stages – it was quickly losing traction and support before it really made it out of the gate.

The unfolding situation created yet more fragmentation in the market as those opposed to the fee structure and confused with how to price it, branched off to evaluate AV1 as an open source alternative. Sadly for AV1 – the support required in browsers and devices just isn’t there yet, and with no ability to support a raft of already in market devices and platforms, service providers and content distributors couldn’t agree on the effort to re-encode huge libraries of content to AV1. This isn’t a simple re-encapsulation after all.

As evangelists and architects, it was fairly well understood, that widespread HEVC support won’t be achieved without major industry shifts from manufacturers of streaming servers, transcoders and compatible hardware, and the pace of adoption just wasn’t there for this to take off in any reasonable time frame. Could we argue that the major players refused to drive this forward until the licensing complexities had been resolved? Perhaps.

H.266/VVC has some challenges and hurdles it needs to address out of the gate.

Licensing and Royalties

To prevent another H.265/HEVC re-run – the industry needs agreement on royalties and pricing – and more critically, a simplified structure of calculation. Historically, royalty payments were skewed towards equipment and device manufacturers, so for service providers and those distributing content – fees were minimal and simple to calculate with most wrapped up in a player licensing fee – or payable at the hardware (consumer electronics) level.

Performance

Leveraging new codecs and compressions standards carries a cost of processing in two areas: encode and decode. Starting with the former – the compute capabilities required to mass encode H.265/HEVC for a use case such as live simulcast were pretty significant. H.265 came along at a time where most hardware encoders (with the exception of the likes of Elemental) had no onboard GPU or hardware acceleration. Encoding a raft of linear channels therefore vastly increased the compute capacity required – and as a result, cost. For the service provider looking to make the switch – the cost benefit ratio of investment in hardware against offsetting the CDN bill with lower data rates just didn’t stack up. Most viewed that a CDN pricing renegotiation would net them the same savings without the upheaval.

Moving to the latter and decode performance – support for H.265/HEVC at the device also used a little more juice – sometimes a lot more juice on older devices that were performance constrained. For those decoding H.265/HEVC in hardware – the performance and battery penalty was negligible – but the reality was that few devices supported this. Samsung introduced the Exynos 5 Octa 5430 in August 2014 and Apple quickly followed suit with the A8 chipset in September 2014 where it first made an appearance in the iPhone 6. For those decoding in software – the performance hit was significant – especially in older devices. This led many service providers to take a back seat until adoption in hardware and devices had evolved to be a little more mainstream.

For H.266/VVC to fly – the equipment manufacturers need to step up and offer support in hardware for decoding – and critically – with a reasonable time to market.

Media Preparation

The introduction of any new encoding standard is a significant headache for any content provider. Although many modern media preparation chains leverage a just in time encapsulation (packaging) process the source assets still leveraging a standard encoding format – nearly all still based on H.264 because of the need to support legacy devices and backwards compatibility with an older generation of products.

Media preparation for live (linear simulcast) is a little simpler as there is no need to manage historical libraries of content. However, to transform a catalogue of VOD assets in HD and 4K renditions that are encoded to H.264 is no small task – with a big financial cost attached. As many service providers offload traditional on premise encoding resources to cloud based services that charge price per minute – the huge volumes of long form assets make this a significant one time hit.

To add some extra hot sauce – will a provider that has recently gone through the motions to transcode from H.264 to H.265 swallow this pill easily? It’s likely to be viewed as an investment not worth taking.

Device Support

This could be viewed as the biggest hurdle we’re going to face. Support for H.266/VVC is going to be very limited for the next few years – but as devices and products come to market with support – we’re going to be in a better position.

I see the use case of live (linear simulcast) being more palatable than VOD given there is no need to re-transcode a historical library.

That said, the challenge will be support for this new codec technology in legacy devices and platforms. With many service providers still unable to serve varying renditions and codecs based on device capabilities – we will need to see either more mainstream support for H.266/VVC or some changes to the application stacks of in market OTT services to make this viable.

Summary

For a content provider to make the leap to move to H.266/VVC – any uncertainty regards licensing and royalties, backwards compatibility and performance need to be ironed out. It’s great to see some significant names like Apple, Intel and Qualcomm on the supporting roster. As chipset manufacturers and those that will take responsibility for decode in hardware – they are key to driving adoption.

If history has taught us anything – it’s that this process may not be as smooth or timely as we perhaps hope and believe.

Fraunhofer have announced that they’ve been working with a bunch of other prominent names in the industry (including the likes of Apple, Ericsson, Intel, Huawei, Microsoft, Qualcomm, and Sony) on the development of the successor for H.265/HEVC. The new codec will be aptly named H.266/VVC. VVC standing for Versatile Video Coding.

Features of H.266/VVC include:

- 50% greater level of encoding efficiency versus H.265/HEVC

- Support for HD, UHD and 8K and larger (12K / 14K) resolutions

- HDR / 10bit support

- Immersive 360 video capable

To understand whether H.266/VVC is going to change our lives – it’s probably worth understanding the background – and most importantly, the challenges faced by its predecessor.

H.265/HEVC became reality in early 2013 when it was approved as an MPEG and ITU-T standard – but took a bit of a beating with negative press around complexities of its licensing pool. With all parties looking to make a few dollars to cover the investment (rightfully so), the logic to figure out charges became difficult to calculate, not to mention incredibly costly at almost 10x more than the predecessor H.264/AVC. With costs stacking up at encode and decode stages – it was quickly losing traction and support before it really made it out of the gate.

The unfolding situation created yet more fragmentation in the market as those opposed to the fee structure and confused with how to price it, branched off to evaluate AV1 as an open source alternative. Sadly for AV1 – the support required in browsers and devices just isn’t there yet, and with no ability to support a raft of already in market devices and platforms, service providers and content distributors couldn’t agree on the effort to re-encode huge libraries of content to AV1. This isn’t a simple re-encapsulation after all.

As evangelists and architects, it was fairly well understood, that widespread HEVC support won’t be achieved without major industry shifts from manufacturers of streaming servers, transcoders and compatible hardware, and the pace of adoption just wasn’t there for this to take off in any reasonable time frame. Could we argue that the major players refused to drive this forward until the licensing complexities had been resolved? Perhaps.

H.266/VVC has some challenges and hurdles it needs to address out of the gate.

Licensing and Royalties

To prevent another H.265/HEVC re-run – the industry needs agreement on royalties and pricing – and more critically, a simplified structure of calculation. Historically, royalty payments were skewed towards equipment and device manufacturers, so for service providers and those distributing content – fees were minimal and simple to calculate with most wrapped up in a player licensing fee – or payable at the hardware (consumer electronics) level.

Performance

Leveraging new codecs and compressions standards carries a cost of processing in two areas: encode and decode. Starting with the former – the compute capabilities required to mass encode H.265/HEVC for a use case such as live simulcast were pretty significant. H.265 came along at a time where most hardware encoders (with the exception of the likes of Elemental) had no onboard GPU or hardware acceleration. Encoding a raft of linear channels therefore vastly increased the compute capacity required – and as a result, cost. For the service provider looking to make the switch – the cost benefit ratio of investment in hardware against offsetting the CDN bill with lower data rates just didn’t stack up. Most viewed that a CDN pricing renegotiation would net them the same savings without the upheaval.

Moving to the latter and decode performance – support for H.265/HEVC at the device also used a little more juice – sometimes a lot more juice on older devices that were performance constrained. For those decoding H.265/HEVC in hardware – the performance and battery penalty was negligible – but the reality was that few devices supported this. Samsung introduced the Exynos 5 Octa 5430 in August 2014 and Apple quickly followed suit with the A8 chipset in September 2014 where it first made an appearance in the iPhone 6. For those decoding in software – the performance hit was significant – especially in older devices. This led many service providers to take a back seat until adoption in hardware and devices had evolved to be a little more mainstream.

For H.266/VVC to fly – the equipment manufacturers need to step up and offer support in hardware for decoding – and critically – with a reasonable time to market.

Media Preparation

The introduction of any new encoding standard is a significant headache for any content provider. Although many modern media preparation chains leverage a just in time encapsulation (packaging) process the source assets still leveraging a standard encoding format – nearly all still based on H.264 because of the need to support legacy devices and backwards compatibility with an older generation of products.

Media preparation for live (linear simulcast) is a little simpler as there is no need to manage historical libraries of content. However, to transform a catalogue of VOD assets in HD and 4K renditions that are encoded to H.264 is no small task – with a big financial cost attached. As many service providers offload traditional on premise encoding resources to cloud based services that charge price per minute – the huge volumes of long form assets make this a significant one time hit.

To add some extra hot sauce – will a provider that has recently gone through the motions to transcode from H.264 to H.265 swallow this pill easily? It’s likely to be viewed as an investment not worth taking.

Device Support

This could be viewed as the biggest hurdle we’re going to face. Support for H.266/VVC is going to be very limited for the next few years – but as devices and products come to market with support – we’re going to be in a better position.

I see the use case of live (linear simulcast) being more palatable than VOD given there is no need to re-transcode a historical library.

That said, the challenge will be support for this new codec technology in legacy devices and platforms. With many service providers still unable to serve varying renditions and codecs based on device capabilities – we will need to see either more mainstream support for H.266/VVC or some changes to the application stacks of in market OTT services to make this viable.

Summary

For a content provider to make the leap to move to H.266/VVC – any uncertainty regards licensing and royalties, backwards compatibility and performance need to be ironed out. It’s great to see some significant names like Apple, Intel and Qualcomm on the supporting roster. As chipset manufacturers and those that will take responsibility for decode in hardware – they are key to driving adoption.

If history has taught us anything – it’s that this process may not be as smooth or timely as we perhaps hope and believe.

Fraunhofer have announced that they’ve been working with a bunch of other prominent names in the industry (including the likes of Apple, Ericsson, Intel, Huawei, Microsoft, Qualcomm, and Sony) on the development of the successor for H.265/HEVC. The new codec will be aptly named H.266/VVC. VVC standing for Versatile Video Coding.

Features of H.266/VVC include:

- 50% greater level of encoding efficiency versus H.265/HEVC

- Support for HD, UHD and 8K and larger (12K / 14K) resolutions

- HDR / 10bit support

- Immersive 360 video capable

To understand whether H.266/VVC is going to change our lives – it’s probably worth understanding the background – and most importantly, the challenges faced by its predecessor.

H.265/HEVC became reality in early 2013 when it was approved as an MPEG and ITU-T standard – but took a bit of a beating with negative press around complexities of its licensing pool. With all parties looking to make a few dollars to cover the investment (rightfully so), the logic to figure out charges became difficult to calculate, not to mention incredibly costly at almost 10x more than the predecessor H.264/AVC. With costs stacking up at encode and decode stages – it was quickly losing traction and support before it really made it out of the gate.

The unfolding situation created yet more fragmentation in the market as those opposed to the fee structure and confused with how to price it, branched off to evaluate AV1 as an open source alternative. Sadly for AV1 – the support required in browsers and devices just isn’t there yet, and with no ability to support a raft of already in market devices and platforms, service providers and content distributors couldn’t agree on the effort to re-encode huge libraries of content to AV1. This isn’t a simple re-encapsulation after all.

As evangelists and architects, it was fairly well understood, that widespread HEVC support won’t be achieved without major industry shifts from manufacturers of streaming servers, transcoders and compatible hardware, and the pace of adoption just wasn’t there for this to take off in any reasonable time frame. Could we argue that the major players refused to drive this forward until the licensing complexities had been resolved? Perhaps.

H.266/VVC has some challenges and hurdles it needs to address out of the gate.

Licensing and Royalties

To prevent another H.265/HEVC re-run – the industry needs agreement on royalties and pricing – and more critically, a simplified structure of calculation. Historically, royalty payments were skewed towards equipment and device manufacturers, so for service providers and those distributing content – fees were minimal and simple to calculate with most wrapped up in a player licensing fee – or payable at the hardware (consumer electronics) level.

Performance

Leveraging new codecs and compressions standards carries a cost of processing in two areas: encode and decode. Starting with the former – the compute capabilities required to mass encode H.265/HEVC for a use case such as live simulcast were pretty significant. H.265 came along at a time where most hardware encoders (with the exception of the likes of Elemental) had no onboard GPU or hardware acceleration. Encoding a raft of linear channels therefore vastly increased the compute capacity required – and as a result, cost. For the service provider looking to make the switch – the cost benefit ratio of investment in hardware against offsetting the CDN bill with lower data rates just didn’t stack up. Most viewed that a CDN pricing renegotiation would net them the same savings without the upheaval.

Moving to the latter and decode performance – support for H.265/HEVC at the device also used a little more juice – sometimes a lot more juice on older devices that were performance constrained. For those decoding H.265/HEVC in hardware – the performance and battery penalty was negligible – but the reality was that few devices supported this. Samsung introduced the Exynos 5 Octa 5430 in August 2014 and Apple quickly followed suit with the A8 chipset in September 2014 where it first made an appearance in the iPhone 6. For those decoding in software – the performance hit was significant – especially in older devices. This led many service providers to take a back seat until adoption in hardware and devices had evolved to be a little more mainstream.

For H.266/VVC to fly – the equipment manufacturers need to step up and offer support in hardware for decoding – and critically – with a reasonable time to market.

Media Preparation

The introduction of any new encoding standard is a significant headache for any content provider. Although many modern media preparation chains leverage a just in time encapsulation (packaging) process the source assets still leveraging a standard encoding format – nearly all still based on H.264 because of the need to support legacy devices and backwards compatibility with an older generation of products.

Media preparation for live (linear simulcast) is a little simpler as there is no need to manage historical libraries of content. However, to transform a catalogue of VOD assets in HD and 4K renditions that are encoded to H.264 is no small task – with a big financial cost attached. As many service providers offload traditional on premise encoding resources to cloud based services that charge price per minute – the huge volumes of long form assets make this a significant one time hit.

To add some extra hot sauce – will a provider that has recently gone through the motions to transcode from H.264 to H.265 swallow this pill easily? It’s likely to be viewed as an investment not worth taking.

Device Support

This could be viewed as the biggest hurdle we’re going to face. Support for H.266/VVC is going to be very limited for the next few years – but as devices and products come to market with support – we’re going to be in a better position.

I see the use case of live (linear simulcast) being more palatable than VOD given there is no need to re-transcode a historical library.

That said, the challenge will be support for this new codec technology in legacy devices and platforms. With many service providers still unable to serve varying renditions and codecs based on device capabilities – we will need to see either more mainstream support for H.266/VVC or some changes to the application stacks of in market OTT services to make this viable.

Summary

For a content provider to make the leap to move to H.266/VVC – any uncertainty regards licensing and royalties, backwards compatibility and performance need to be ironed out. It’s great to see some significant names like Apple, Intel and Qualcomm on the supporting roster. As chipset manufacturers and those that will take responsibility for decode in hardware – they are key to driving adoption.

If history has taught us anything – it’s that this process may not be as smooth or timely as we perhaps hope and believe.

Fraunhofer have announced that they’ve been working with a bunch of other prominent names in the industry (including the likes of Apple, Ericsson, Intel, Huawei, Microsoft, Qualcomm, and Sony) on the development of the successor for H.265/HEVC. The new codec will be aptly named H.266/VVC. VVC standing for Versatile Video Coding.

Features of H.266/VVC include:

- 50% greater level of encoding efficiency versus H.265/HEVC

- Support for HD, UHD and 8K and larger (12K / 14K) resolutions

- HDR / 10bit support

- Immersive 360 video capable

To understand whether H.266/VVC is going to change our lives – it’s probably worth understanding the background – and most importantly, the challenges faced by its predecessor.

H.265/HEVC became reality in early 2013 when it was approved as an MPEG and ITU-T standard – but took a bit of a beating with negative press around complexities of its licensing pool. With all parties looking to make a few dollars to cover the investment (rightfully so), the logic to figure out charges became difficult to calculate, not to mention incredibly costly at almost 10x more than the predecessor H.264/AVC. With costs stacking up at encode and decode stages – it was quickly losing traction and support before it really made it out of the gate.

The unfolding situation created yet more fragmentation in the market as those opposed to the fee structure and confused with how to price it, branched off to evaluate AV1 as an open source alternative. Sadly for AV1 – the support required in browsers and devices just isn’t there yet, and with no ability to support a raft of already in market devices and platforms, service providers and content distributors couldn’t agree on the effort to re-encode huge libraries of content to AV1. This isn’t a simple re-encapsulation after all.

As evangelists and architects, it was fairly well understood, that widespread HEVC support won’t be achieved without major industry shifts from manufacturers of streaming servers, transcoders and compatible hardware, and the pace of adoption just wasn’t there for this to take off in any reasonable time frame. Could we argue that the major players refused to drive this forward until the licensing complexities had been resolved? Perhaps.

H.266/VVC has some challenges and hurdles it needs to address out of the gate.

Licensing and Royalties

To prevent another H.265/HEVC re-run – the industry needs agreement on royalties and pricing – and more critically, a simplified structure of calculation. Historically, royalty payments were skewed towards equipment and device manufacturers, so for service providers and those distributing content – fees were minimal and simple to calculate with most wrapped up in a player licensing fee – or payable at the hardware (consumer electronics) level.

Performance

Leveraging new codecs and compressions standards carries a cost of processing in two areas: encode and decode. Starting with the former – the compute capabilities required to mass encode H.265/HEVC for a use case such as live simulcast were pretty significant. H.265 came along at a time where most hardware encoders (with the exception of the likes of Elemental) had no onboard GPU or hardware acceleration. Encoding a raft of linear channels therefore vastly increased the compute capacity required – and as a result, cost. For the service provider looking to make the switch – the cost benefit ratio of investment in hardware against offsetting the CDN bill with lower data rates just didn’t stack up. Most viewed that a CDN pricing renegotiation would net them the same savings without the upheaval.

Moving to the latter and decode performance – support for H.265/HEVC at the device also used a little more juice – sometimes a lot more juice on older devices that were performance constrained. For those decoding H.265/HEVC in hardware – the performance and battery penalty was negligible – but the reality was that few devices supported this. Samsung introduced the Exynos 5 Octa 5430 in August 2014 and Apple quickly followed suit with the A8 chipset in September 2014 where it first made an appearance in the iPhone 6. For those decoding in software – the performance hit was significant – especially in older devices. This led many service providers to take a back seat until adoption in hardware and devices had evolved to be a little more mainstream.

For H.266/VVC to fly – the equipment manufacturers need to step up and offer support in hardware for decoding – and critically – with a reasonable time to market.

Media Preparation

The introduction of any new encoding standard is a significant headache for any content provider. Although many modern media preparation chains leverage a just in time encapsulation (packaging) process the source assets still leveraging a standard encoding format – nearly all still based on H.264 because of the need to support legacy devices and backwards compatibility with an older generation of products.

Media preparation for live (linear simulcast) is a little simpler as there is no need to manage historical libraries of content. However, to transform a catalogue of VOD assets in HD and 4K renditions that are encoded to H.264 is no small task – with a big financial cost attached. As many service providers offload traditional on premise encoding resources to cloud based services that charge price per minute – the huge volumes of long form assets make this a significant one time hit.

To add some extra hot sauce – will a provider that has recently gone through the motions to transcode from H.264 to H.265 swallow this pill easily? It’s likely to be viewed as an investment not worth taking.

Device Support

This could be viewed as the biggest hurdle we’re going to face. Support for H.266/VVC is going to be very limited for the next few years – but as devices and products come to market with support – we’re going to be in a better position.

I see the use case of live (linear simulcast) being more palatable than VOD given there is no need to re-transcode a historical library.

That said, the challenge will be support for this new codec technology in legacy devices and platforms. With many service providers still unable to serve varying renditions and codecs based on device capabilities – we will need to see either more mainstream support for H.266/VVC or some changes to the application stacks of in market OTT services to make this viable.

Summary

For a content provider to make the leap to move to H.266/VVC – any uncertainty regards licensing and royalties, backwards compatibility and performance need to be ironed out. It’s great to see some significant names like Apple, Intel and Qualcomm on the supporting roster. As chipset manufacturers and those that will take responsibility for decode in hardware – they are key to driving adoption.

If history has taught us anything – it’s that this process may not be as smooth or timely as we perhaps hope and believe.

To find out more about anything you've read here, or to learn how Spicy Mango could help, drop us a note at hello@spicymango.co.uk, give us a call, or send us a message using our contact form and we'll be in touch.

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More insights you may enjoy

More insights you may enjoy

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We don’t share your personal details with anyone

Get in touch

Contact us - we don't bite

Drop us an email at hello@spicymango.co.uk or call us on +44 (0)844 848 0441 or fill out the contact form below for a friendly chat.

We don’t share your personal details with anyone

Get in touch

Contact us - we don't bite

Drop us an email at hello@spicymango.co.uk or call us on +44 (0)844 848 0441 or fill out the contact form below for a friendly chat.

We don’t share your personal details with anyone