YouTube To Lead Ultra-HD Industry Shift with 4K Streaming

Through the television and monitor innovations that occurred in 2013, it is becoming clear that 2014 will be a big year for 4K media consumption. There already are a variety of 4K displays on the market but in the coming year, it is expected they will drop to a more affordable price and more important, media sources will begin to offer 4K content.

TV networks may have a long road ahead of them when it comes to upgrading their content to Ultra-HD 4K, but Google has already revealed it will be coming out with a new way for 4K content to be streamed to users. A full announcement will be coming during CES 2014, but it already sounds as though YouTube may end up leading the content provider industry in the shift to 4K.

A New Codec

Francisco Varela, YouTube's director of platform partnerships revealed that in order for 4K to roll out, Google's video Web site would be utilizing a new codec that has yet to gain popularity. The codec, VP9, will be used as an alternative to H.264 since it is capable of supporting 4K but it also uses far less bandwidth, meaning that people with average Internet connections will still be able to watch 4K videos.

Google's VP9 is also royalty-free, something important for smaller video producers, as the creators of H.264 and H.265 do charge some producers a fee when using the codec for a large production.

While YouTube may be enabling 4K through VP9 first, it is possible that the more mainstream standards will be supported sometime in 2014 or 2015 as well. "This certainly isn't a war of the video codec," Varela told GigaOM.

The one major downside to VP9 is that both it and VP8 have been relatively unpopular, so TVs and monitors generally do not...

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