The ITU-T began development of a successor to H.264 in 2004, while ISO/IEC began working in 2007. In January 2010, the groups collaborated on a joint Call for Proposals, which culminated in a meeting of the MPEG & VCEG Joint Collaborative Team on Video Coding (JCT-VC) in April 2010, at which the name High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) was adopted for the codec. In October, 2010, the JCT-VC produced the first working draft specification, with the Draft Standard — based upon the eight working draft specifications — approved in July, 2012. In January of this year the ITU announced that HEVC had received first stage approval (consent) in the ITU-T Alternative Approval Process, while MPEG announced that HEVC had been promoted to Final Draft International Standard (FDIS) status in the MPEG standardization process. In April 13, 2013: HEVC/H.265 video codec approved as an ITU-T standard, and it’s now available for download on the ITU-T site.
This standard can definitely enable better compression. Same picture size and quality, a HEVC sequence can occupy less storage or transmission capacity than the equivalent H.264 video sequence. And the quality or resolutions should be higher than the H.264 video sequence.
In addition, encoding existing SD and HD content with HEVC rather than H.264 will add to cost savings and/or the ability to stream higher quality video to lower bitrate connections.
One thing of note is that HEVC is currently delivering the most reduction in bandwidth with larger resolutions. With smaller resolutions, there is not as much cost savings. Going forward as more companies implement HEVC, lower resolutions will also deliver equivalent quality at half the bitrate of H.264.
While H.264 was the codec that originally facilitated OTT and was the making of Netflix and YouTube, high-efficiency video coding could prove to be the codec that, by enabling HD quality, makes unmanaged networks viable for delivering premium Pay TV services. One definite is that HEVC will cut IP transport costs over CDNs (Content Delivery Networks) for OTT services.
Why the initial lag in adoption of the new codec? One explanation was the uncertainty of price and what it would cost to use HEVC. Also the incorporation of HEVC playback into the iOS or Android platforms, either via an app or OS upgrade, is necessary for ratification of the standard. As expected, mobile video and OTT are leading the way in terms of HEVC adaption.
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