Tip #1623: H.264 is Going Away. Chaos is Coming.

… for Codecs & Media

Tip #1623: H.264 is Going Away. Chaos is Coming.

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

“Feudal” and “obtuse” MPEG bureaucrats blamed.

Image courtesy: ReThink TV

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This article, written by Adrian Penington, first appeared in NAB Amplify. This is a summary.

MPEG has been the dominant force in driving standardization of video compression format over three decades successfully delivering successive generations which drive bitrates down while keeping quality up.

In recent times its codec HEVC/H.265, the successor to the world’s current dominant code AVC H.264, has become mired in opaque patent pools which has hindered adoption and caused web giants and OEMs to seek alternatives. The mistakes in implementing HEVC and in not correcting them in time have come home to roost.

MPEG’s once dominant position seems to have come to an end — “and the blame seems to be entirely on the mess that arose from intellectual property claims and royalties,” concludes Rethink Research in a comprehensive analysis of the codec sector.

This matters because codecs are essential components of any video business, particularly when streaming content OTT to devices everywhere. Decisions on which horse to back need taking some time out and investments don’t run cheap. In fact, they could be about to get steeper for all concerned.

Instead of one codec to rule them all, as was the state of play for the last 30 years, what all this means for the next few decades is a fractured market with no single codec reach the same dominant position of MPEG 2 or AVC.


Turning to the ReThink TV website, they summarize the report as:

  • AVC (H.264) will finally decline, but its direct successor (H.265) will not replace it entirely.
  • As HEVC grows, its own successor VVC (H.266) becomes a direct competitor. This, and its high royalty fees, will stall growth, as well as the memory of the infamous HEVC royalty wars.
  • AV1 will emerge as an OTT option, but is still dogged by Sisvel’s recent appearance and royalty claims.
  • LCEVC will take root, initially in the AOMedia ecosystem, but expanding comfortably into the MPEG family by 2030.

Here’s a link to the Executive Summary of the ReThink TV Report.

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