Just back from ten days in Europe where I spoke at Streaming Tech Sweden and met with many streaming producers and encoding vendors. In particular, the vendors expressed dismay at the slow adoption of HEVC, particularly in view of Apple’s decision to include HEVC in HLS.
Now that we’ve confirmed that battery life won’t be an issue, adding HEVC to HLS seems like a total no-brainer. Why the delay? It’s hard to say, but clearly, the uncertainty regarding royalties isn’t helping. You can see why in the figure above which is from a talk given by Divideon’s Jonatan Samuelsson at Streaming Tech Sweden. As you can see, it shows the members of the three patent pools and those who haven’t yet joined a pool.
Regarding content royalties, MPEG-LA isn’t charging any, and HEVC Advance is charging about 18 cents per year per subscriber, which isn’t too onerous. A remarkable nine months after launching, and close to five years after HEVC shipped, Velos still hasn’t announced their royalty policy. On the lower left, you see the companies who have contributed IP to the spec but haven’t joined a pool or announced their intentions.
I feel pretty safe in saying that no one likes to buy a product (or adopt a new technology) without knowing the price. CFOs in streaming companies hate the thought, as do their legal advisors. No company wants to adopt a new technology only to learn months or years later that using it is commercially unreasonable.
As I’ve written about many times now, HEVC IP owners have dragged their feet on delivering a cohesive pricing policy. Now that Apple has made HEVC very usable, it’s time for HEVC IP owners to make it commercially practical. With the codebase for HEVC competitor AV1 set to freeze in January 2018, the clock is definitely ticking.
(Author’s note: Corrected article to show $0.18/cents per year rather than $0.018, an error noted by Jonatan Samuelsson).