Netflix Rolls Out AV1 Streaming Codec on PS4 Pro, Select Android-Powered Smart TVs

(Image credit: Netflix)

After successfully testing the new AV1 streaming codec on Android mobile devices since February 2020, Netflix said it will now use the technology to stream 4K video to PlayStation 4 Pro game consoles and certain Android TV-powered smart TVs that support AV1. 

"We want our members to have brilliant playback experiences, and our players are designed to adapt to the changing network conditions," reads a Netflix blog post jointly penned by a gaggle of company engineers. 

"When the current condition cannot sustain the current video quality, our players can switch to a lower bitrate stream to reduce the chance of a playback interruption. Given AV1 consumes less bandwidth for any given quality level, our players are able to sustain the video quality for a longer period of time and do not need to switch to a lower bitrate stream as much as before," the post added. 

On some TVs using AV1, the engineers added, "noticeable drops in quality were reduced by as much as 38%."

AV1's improvements come at a cost--computer processing power must be upgraded on streaming hardware in order to support it. 

Google, which jointly developed AV1 with Netflix, is down for the plan. 

Netflix said its initial launch fo AV1 will be to "a number of AV1 capable TVs, as well as TVs connected with PS4 Pro." Google mandated earlier this year to OEM smart TV companies who license its Android TV operating system that they start building AV1 support into their sets. So presumably, the TVs Netflix refers to are Android TV/Google TV flavored. 

Notably, the top maker of connected TV OS in the U.S., Roku, is said to be resisting AV1 hardware upgrades. Roku executives have gone on record saying their smart TV original equipment maker relationships depend on Roku keeping the hardware requirements needed to run its OS minimal. 

Currently, Roku is at odds with Google over a new contract to support the YouTube and YouTube TV apps on its platform. A key issue in that dispute is reportedly Google's insistence that Roku get with the program on AV1 so that YouTube can start distributing 4K video via the codec more widely. 

Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!