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YouTube testing AV1 codec on Chrome, Firefox for more efficient streaming

AV1 is an open, industry-backed codec that will allow for more efficient and better quality video streaming. YouTube is beginning to test AV1 through an initial beta with Chrome 70 and Firefox Nightly on desktops now supporting it.

This next generation codec was developed by the Alliance for Open Media and improves video compression by 30% compared to the current VP9 video coding format. In addition to data savings, especially on mobile devices, it allows for smoother HD streaming. As such, YouTube and other streaming services are very interested in adopting it.

Just a few videos today, but our commitment to AV1 is strong, and we have ambitious goals for rolling out the new format. Look for AV1 transcodes on the videos from your favorite creators soon.

The Google video site has a Beta Launch Playlist of the first 14 videos to receive YouTube’s AV1 transcodes.

The videos selected here represent a large slice of content that YouTube users enjoy, from talking-head programs to popular music videos. We’ve chosen action videos featuring snow and water spray, as these tend to stress encoders and decoders alike. Animated footage and game captures (coming soon) provide a wider range of content, and we round out the set with some beautiful stuff straight from the makers of cinema cameras.

Given the early stage, there are some caveats. For the moment, AV1 is only used for video playback in 480p or lower, with VP9 used at higher resolutions. Additionally, “transcodes are encoded at a very high bitrate for decoder performance testing.”

Users on Chrome 70 and Firefox Nightly builds after September 13th can test it by making sure media.av1.enabled and media.mediasource.experimental.enabled prefs are set.


Once running a supported browser, users can head to YouTube’s TestTube experiments list and select “‘Prefer AV1 for SD.”

YouTube AV1

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Avatar for Abner Li Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: