Early last year, Netflix started using a new codec called AV1 on a select set of titles on Android. Now, the streaming giant has enabled AV1 streaming on the PS4 Pro and a limited number of smart TV models. Netflix was a key contributor to the development of AV1, which is available for use royalty free under the Alliance of Open Media. It shared this list of supported TVs with The Verge:
Select Samsung 2020 UHD Smart TVs
Select Samsung 2020 UHD QLED Smart TVs
Select Samsung 2020 8K QLED Smart TVs
Samsung The Frame 2020 Smart TVs
Samsung The Serif 2020 Smart TVs
Samsung The Terrace 2020 Smart TVs
Any TV connected to a PS4 Pro streaming with the Netflix app
Select Amazon Fire TV devices with Fire OS 7 and above
Select Android TV devices with Android OS 10 and above
The company explained that deployment on TVs took sometime because playback on TV platforms depend on hardware. It was only over the past year that the industry released models capable of AV1 streaming. Netflix conducted comparison testing before rollout and found that AV1 delivers videos with better quality than other codecs, especially when there's network congestion. It also noticed fewer noticeable drops in quality due to changing network conditions and lesser time to start streams. In addition, since AV1 has higher compression efficiency than the codecs Netflix is currently using, it needs lesser bandwidth. That could lead to longer streaming sessions in 4K resolution.
A team within the company created a rollout strategy to minimize associated costs with encoding its whole catalogue. Netflix will consider a title's popularity into consideration and start with well-known shows like La Casa de Papel (Money Heist) to make sure the AV1 streaming reaches the most number of viewers. The streaming giant also said that it's working with more manufacturers to develop more devices with AV1 playback capability.