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VP9 can help YouTube become more ‘TV like’, says Varela

Google’s VP9 video compression codec, the internet giant’s alternative to the H.265 next-generation video compression standard, can help YouTube deliver a more TV-like experience and provide a better way to overcome bandwidth limitations than financial payment to operators for privileged access to networks, according to Francisco Varela, global director of mobile and platform partnerships, YouTube.

Varela, delivering a ‘fireside chat’ interview at TV Connect yesterday morning, said that delivering video quickly on-demand, before viewers switched to something else, is important in delivering a better experience. He said YouTube would like to enable users to “flip through channels” just like people using a remote control to interact with their TVs.

To deliver video faster, in the absence of broadband networks that deliver adequate bandwidth to support such functionality, YouTube could adopt new codecs including VP9, which according to Varela was much faster than H.264.

“We’ve had terrific adoption across devices. Google Chrome now supports VP9 and we announced partners at CES, who will be supporting VP9 in hardware from next year,” he said.

Providing people with an inexpensive way to access internet video on TV is a key challenge, said Varela.

Arguing against content providers paying access networks for privileged rights, he said that services including YouTube and Netflix provided demand for access network providers’ broadband services. “I don’t see us paying for that – I think that skews incentives in a strange way,” he said.

Varela said YouTube has over the past year changed the way it approached TV, moving to regain control over the way its app was implemented on connected TVs rather than allow portal operators to develop their own version of its app.

“We need our users to have a consistent experience and our partners to be able to monetise,” he said. “It’s been a huge learning experience for us.”

Varela also said that event-based viewing and the distribution of live TV on YouTube is becoming more common. Over the last year, YouTube had dropped the requirement that live streaming should be restricted to big events and big partners. “We think live TV will grow,” he said.

Varela said operators had welcomed YouTube to their services. Operators are moving fast to keep their devices up to date with consumer products, he said. In many countries, cable providers are the first point of contact for people using the TV. “I don’t see our partnerships going away soon,” he said.

Ultimately, said Varela, getting YouTube on the operator’s EPG and providing channels people already subscribe to online will deliver great value.

Varela said that YouTube could deliver additional value for operator partners, thanks to the global scale of the platform, by providing content that would not be seen otherwise.

“There are genres of content that maybe one particular country can’t fund sufficiently to maintain, but when you take a global audience, you can fund it through advertising,” he said. Content on YouTube aggregates niche audiences globally, he said.