HEVC Advance Releases New Software Policy
November 22nd 2016 may be shown by history as the day that wholesale adoption of HEVC as the preferred next generation codec began. For companies like Beamr who are innovating on next-generation video encoding technologies such as HEVC, the news HEVC Advance announced on to drop royalties (license fees) on certain applications of their patents is huge.
In their press release, HEVC Advance, the patent pool for key HEVC technologies stated that they will not seek a license fee or royalties on software applications that utilize the HEVC compression standard for encoding and decoding. This carve out only applies to software which is able to be run on commodity servers, but we think the restriction fits beautifully with where the industry is headed.
Did you catch that? NO HEVC ROYALTIES FOR SOFTWARE ENCODERS AND DECODERS!
Specifically, the policy will protect “application layer software downloaded to mobile devices or personal computers after the initial sales of the device, where the HEVC encoding or decoding is fully executed in software on a general purpose CPU” from royalty and licensing fees.
Requirements of Eligible Software
For those trying to wrap their heads around eligibility, the new policy outlines three requirements which the software products performing HEVC decoding or encoding must meet:
- Application layer software, or codec libraries used by application layer software, enabling software-only encoding or decoding of HEVC.
- Software downloaded after the initial sale of a related product (mobile device or desktop personal computer). In the case of software which otherwise would fit the exclusion but is being shipped with a product, then the manufacturer of the product would need to pay a royalty.
- Software must not be specifically excluded.
Examples of exempted software applications where an HEVC decode royalty will likely not be due includes web browsers, personal video conferencing software and video players provided by various internet streaming distributors or software application providers.
For more information check out https://www.hevcadvance.com/
As stated previously, driven by the rise of virtual private and public cloud encoding workflows, provided an HEVC encoder meets the eligibility requirements, for many companies it appears that there will not be an added cost to utilize HEVC in place of H.264.
A Much Needed Push for HEVC Adoption
As 4k, HDR, VR and 360 video are gathering steam, Beamr has seen the adoption rate moving faster than expected, but with the unanswered questions around royalties, and concerns of the cost burden, even the largest distributors have been tentative. This move by HEVC Advance is meant to encourage and accelerate the adoption (implementation) of HEVC, by removing uncertainties in the market.
Internet streaming distributors and software application providers can be at ease knowing they can offer applications with HEVC software decoders without incurring onerous royalties or licensing fees. This is important as streaming app content consumption continues to increase, with more and more companies investing in its future.
By initiating a software-only royalty solution, HEVC Advance expects this move to push the rest of the market i.e. device manufacturers and browser providers to implement HEVC capability in their hardware and offer their customers the best and most efficient video experience possible.
What this Means for a Video Distributor
Beamr is the leader in H.265/HEVC encoding. With 60 engineers around the world working at the codec level to produce the highest performing HEVC codec SDK in the market, Beamr V.265 delivers exceptional quality with much better scalability than any other software codec.
Industry benchmarks are showing that H.265/HEVC provides on average a 30% bitrate efficiency for the same quality and resolution over H.264. Which given the bandwidth pressure all networks are under to upgrade quality while minimizing the bits used, there is only one video encoding technology available at scale to meet the needs of the market, and that is HEVC.
The classic chicken and egg problem no longer exists with HEVC.
The challenge every new technology faces as it is introduced into the market is the classic problem of needing to attract implementers and users. In the case of a video encoding technology, without an appropriately scaled video playback ecosystem, no matter the benefits, it cannot be deployed without a sufficiently large number of players in the market.
But the good news is that over the last few years, and as consumers have propelled the TV upgrade cycle forward, many have opted to purchase UHD 4k TVs.
Most of the 2015-2016 models of major brand TVs have built-in HEVC decoders and this trend will continue in 2017 and beyond. Netflix, Amazon, VUDU, and FandangoNow (M-GO) are shipping their players on most models of UHD TVs that are capable of decoding and playing back H.265/HEVC content from these services. These distributors were all able to utilize the native HEVC decoder in the TV, easing the complexity of launching a 4k app.
For those who wonder if there is a sufficiently large ecosystem of HEVC playback in the market, just look at the 90 million TVs that are in homes today globally (approximately 40 million are in the US). And consider that in 2017 the number of 4k HEVC capable TV’s will nearly double to 167 million according to Cisco, as illustrated below.
The industry has spoken regarding the superior quality and performance of Beamr’s own HEVC encoder, and we will be providing benchmarks and documentation in future blog posts. Meanwhile our team of architects and implementation specialists who work with the largest service providers, SVOD consumer streaming services, and broadcasters in the world are ready to discuss your migration plans from H.264 to HEVC.
Just fill out our short Info Request form and the appropriate person will get in touch.