YouTube 4k video streaming
January 3, 2014

YouTube To Show Off 4K Video Streaming At CES

Peter Suciu for – Your Universe Online

At next week’s 2014 International CES – formerly the Consumer Electronics Show – streaming media service YouTube will reportedly demonstrate 4K video streaming. On Friday Gigaom reported that the video service will show off ultra high-definition streaming based on the VP9 royalty fee codec that was developed by Google, which owns YouTube, as an alternative to the H.265 video codec that is used for many rival 4K implementations.

Google previously had tried to launch the VP8 4K streaming codec in 2010, which was designed as a way to make video streaming easier for users as it removed the need for users to install plugins. SlashGear noted that Google used the VP8 codec in its own Hangouts video conferencing but in the end had failed to get other companies to use this technology.

What could be different this time is that Google is looking to form partnerships that could spur broader adoption of VP9 deployment. YouTube will reportedly show off its 4K streaming at the booths of LG, Panasonic and Sony at next week’s CES.

This week YouTube released a list of 19 hardware partners that pledged to offer support for VP9, and these include chipset makers including ARM, Intel, Broadcom and Marvell, as well as consumer electronic giants such as Samsung, Sharp and Toshiba. However, YouTube is downplaying that this could be the beginning of any sort of format war against other video streaming codecs.

“This certainly isn’t a war of the video codecs,” Francisco Varela, global director of platform partnership at YouTube, told Gigaom.

This isn’t just about the higher resolution that 4K/U-HD offers – which is four times the resolution of current Full HD 1080. This new codec will allow the streaming video service to deliver higher resolutions at faster bitrates of course, but it will also reduce the amount of data necessary to stream current generation HD by about half. That could streamline the streaming process and improve video delivery by reducing the need to buffer the video.

“By 2015, you’ll be surprised every time you see that spinning wheel,” Varela added.

By next year it could also be about that better picture as well. VP9 will likely arrive on PCs and mobile devices but could arrive on TVs supporting the format by 2015. This likely won’t be limited to YouTube, as other video services could look to the codec.

“This is important for the entire ecosystem,” said Varela.

It could also challenge rival Netflix, which announced on Tuesday that it would start streaming movies and TV shows in 4K – but only via certain TVs. Netflix is expected to reveal its TV manufacturer partnerships in Las Vegas next week.

“We’re not naming specific manufacturers,” said Netflix Chief Product Officer Neil Hunt. “But we have several of the major TV vendors who are going to be producing 4K capable TVs – they’ll be announcing them at CES.”

Moreover, while YouTube is looking to go higher resolution it was also reported this week that Netflix could be rolling out a lower tier plan that would deliver standard definition streamed content to a single device for $6.99 a month.