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Amazon, Netflix, Google and co team up for new video format

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New streaming video format coming from some of the biggest names in the industry

A host of internet and entertainment giants are teaming up to create a new streaming video format. Companies included in the Alliance for Open Media include Amazon, Netflix, Google, Microsoft, Intel, Mozilla and Cisco. 

The move will hopefully bring to an end the use of different formats and codecs across different sites, often forcing users to install multiple plugins to watch content from different providers. Although many of the companies involved have migrated to HTML5 video in preference to proprietary standards such as Flash and Silverlight, they still back many different HTML5 formats (including H.264, Theora and VP9), with varying levels of support in the popular desktop and mobile web browsers.

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The Alliance says it will initially focus on delivering a next-generation video format that is royalty free and open to all. The format will be scalable for “any modern device at any bandwidth” and designed for both commerical and non-commercial use. The format will support encryption, which is often demanded of streaming firms such as Netflix and Amazon by rights holders. 

The Alliance isn’t only concerned with video, saying it will bring its “collective expertise” to bear on “top-quality video, audio, imagery and streaming across devices of all kinds and for users worldwide” in the fullness of time. It hasn’t given a target date for the release of the new video format.

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Some of the members will be bringing work they’ve already undertaken on new video formats to the table. Google’s WebM project, for example, was already designed to offer a “high-quality, open video format for the web that’s freely available to everyone”, and Mozilla’s Daala had similar goals. 

“Google launched the WebM Project in 2010 in the belief that web video innovation was too slow and too closed, and that broad collaboration — in the open — would fix both problems,” said Matt Frost, Head of Strategy and Partnerships for Chrome Media at Google. “The Alliance for Open Media is a big leap forward for these core philosophies, and we’re gratified that our AOMedia partners share this vision. Our combined strength, resources and expertise will drive the next generation of web media experiences much further and faster than WebM can do alone.” 

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