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Netflix adopting VP9 to improve mobile streaming

This year during MWC, Netflix was making some noise of their own at a private event. They were taking advantage of MWC to demonstrate improved video quality without more bandwidth. This is being made possible by moving towards using the VP9 video codec developed by Google. None of the technology being applied here is new as VP9 was first made available in 2012, but some companies are just starting to implement it now. VP9 will offer higher quality using less data that the current HEVC code that the Netflix app is using. This new codec will be a key part of Netflix’s mobile strategy as they expand to areas with low capacity networks such as developing countries.

Android Central was at the event to see the effects of the new VP9 codec in person. The demonstration used the Netflix Original Series Stranger Things and showed indistinguishable 1080p video running on a pair of identical phones. The VP9 based stream was using only 277Kbps while the conventional stream was using 555Kbps. This nearly 50% reduction in bandwidth can have huge implications when applied to developing areas or for users with data caps. With the return of unlimited data to all major U.S. carriers, this improved compression will offer easier congestion management. The use of a higher quality code will also have positive implications with 4K streaming, although phones supporting 4K are currently few and far between.


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