YouTube 4K streaming coming at CES with new VP9 codec

by: Shawn IngramJanuary 2, 2014


At CES next week  YouTube will show off 4K streaming using a new open-source codec that will make videos load faster and require less bandwidth.

The new codec Google will introduce is called VP9, the follow-up to the failed VP8 codec introduced back in 2010. This time is different, though, because VP9 will have hardware partners at launch unlike its predecessor. On the first day of CES Google will show off 4K streaming using the new codec at the LG, Panasonic, and Sony booths. The list of other partners includes ARM, Samsung, Intel, Broadcom, Marvell, Toshiba, and Sharp. Basically, it includes most major companies that produce smartphones and PCs and the parts that go in them.

Google’s VP9 is supposed to be the open-source alternative to H.265, the current standard for 4K video. The goal is to make videos easier to stream with VP9 by cutting the requires bandwidth in half. YouTube also hopes it will help do away with buffering, which would be very nice.

YouTube may support H.265 in the future if there is enough demand for it, but for now the focus looks to be on VP9.

The new codec will bring 4K video streaming to PCs and smartphones first, with Smart TV support coming sometime in 2015. There are no smartphones that have 4K displays yet, and the few 4K PC monitors are very expensive. So for most of us, the new codec will hopefully mean better streaming, but any higher resolution videos will probably have to wait.

Of course, we’ll also have to wait for 4K cameras to be more affordable before we see any YouTube videos at that high resolution. Right now only professionals and the affluent can afford 4K cameras, which means that approximately 99.9% of YouTube content creators can’t shoot in 4K yet. Luckily for us, 4K video recording support is already supported by some Android devices.

Are you excited about YouTube’s new 4K streaming plans, even if you might not have a 4K screen?

  • MasterMuffin

    I really don’t care about 4K Youtube videos unless Youtube apps for TVs start getting usable. But the new codec is niiiiice

    • Leonard Sam

      Yo … my Gusta……

    • MasterMuffinFan2


  • Q

    Very excited to see where 4k takes the industry

  • Bishop

    Even though it will be highly compressed, compared to what high end 4k content will end up being, I do like the fact that 4K is getting a lot of support even at this point.

    • Arturo Raygoza

      I think 4k definitely has a future unlike 3d tvs

      • MasterMuffin

        But 4K brings better 3D and if 4K succeeds, 3D could come back

        • Arturo Raygoza

          sorry but consumers didnt like diferent standards, expensive glasses, expensive and limited 3d media as well as the hassle of not being able to just flop down and just watch TV or do something else while watching TV and not having to wear those aforementioned expensive and quite ridiculous glasses.

          I myself would buy a 4k TV just the price needs to be right. but 3D? no way

          • MasterMuffin

            You’re not all consumers

          • Arturo Raygoza

            but my sentiments above describe the reasons of the failure of mass adoption.

  • Brandon Johnson

    I thought Go Pro cameras could shoot @ 4k?

    • nukular

      Yes, the hero 3 shoots 4k, but only @ 15fps

  • xFEARzGamer .

    My connection can’t handle a 720p steam ..4K? lol

    • DaVince

      Then again, this “requires less bandwidth” part may just benefit 720p streams so your connection suddenly *would* be able to handle it. But we’ll see!

  • Aravind J Nampoothiry

    4K….On a 1 Mbps connection…. PFF :D.I just want to watch at 720p without buffering.

  • teotsi21

    well…unbox therapy has been streaming all of his videos in 4K for the last months…Instead of daaaaamn smartphones, a company should try and make a 20 inch 4K monitor for <500$. I know it sounds impossible, but if they did….