Skip to content
Deacon JohnsonMar 26, 20244 min read

The Tale of Three Codecs

The Codecs That Built the Video Industry

One thing we can all agree on is that the video industry has changed substantially over the past decade or so. Through all its turbulence, codecs have continued to lay a strong foundation for the future of video. Video codecs have been dominating the video industry since the 1990s, paving the way for a lot of the positive changes we see today.

Due to the constant development and improvement of new codecs, the future of the video industry is looking more promising each year. Successful video codecs can have a rather long lifecycle, with past, present and future often running side-by-side. A point in fact are three MPEG codecs that have, or will, shape the face of the video industry: AVC, HEVC and VVC.

This is the tale of the three codecs that are changing the video industry for the better, and how they are helping to drive the future of content delivery, distribution, and quality.

AVC: Maturity Stage

AVC logoAVC (also referred to as H.264 or MPEG-4 Part 10) was standardized in 2003, bringing an entirely new look to the capabilities of video distribution, quality, and compatibility. This codec, from the moment of standardization, quickly claimed its place in the codec hall of fame with incredible capabilities for visual quality produced at low data rates compared to previous solutions with a level of device compatibility reliance not yet seen in the video codec industry.

To this day, AVC is the most widely used video codec – and for good reason. Currently in its late maturity stage at over 20 years since standardization, it is still heavily relied on in the broadcast and media industry for solid content distribution and high quality across the board. One promising prospect that AVC introduced was the compatibility rating for OTT streaming and broadcast. Prior to the standardization of this codec, the prospects for this level of speed and quality were unheard of. For this reason, AVC continues to be a household staple for content providers and countless other organizations within the video industry. 

HEVC: Growth Stage

HEVC logoAnother codec that has changed the video ecosystem is HEVC, also referred to as H.265, and the successor of AVC. Standardized in 2013, HEVC has more than delivered on its promise of better compression and up to 30% greater bitrate efficiency than any codec before it. With 8K looming on the horizon, many content providers and organizations within the video industry are beginning to think about how to incorporate faster, more capable, and higher quality broadcast workflows. HEVC has quickly become the next-generation codec of choice.

Currently in its growth stage, HEVC isn’t slowing down in popularity any time soon, in fact, it still has quite a way to go before peaking on the growth curve. Providing an incredible jump up in terms of video quality (often ranking number one on the scale) it has been continually deployed and integrated into workflows all over the globe, with many organizations employing it, reaping the benefits, and not even knowing. This codec provides unmatched reliability and opens previously unopened doors within the video industry for quality and performance.

A step up from AVC, HEVC is a solid choice for any content providing organization looking to create a re-imagined, future-oriented broadcast workflow with superior reliability and compatibility.

VVC: Introduction Stage

VVC logoFinally, the most recent codec to have an impact on the industry is VVC/H.266. Standardized in 2020, this codec has started off on a very strong footing. The video industry is constantly changing, with consumer habits continuously evolving and demands transforming fast. As the industry chooses the direction of content and video, VVC is engineered to deal with the twists and turns as they happen.

With extremely promising outlooks for maximized visual quality and higher resolution, specifically in the realm of 8K and beyond, this codec has so much value it can deliver to the market. With VVC, industry professionals can have access to future-oriented video distribution, with up to 40% improvement in compression capabilities and possible insights to a cost-efficient and even more effective broadcast workflow. Being a new codec, VVC is in the introduction stage, which is an exciting prospect for its development and use within the industry. With the high resolution and compression opportunities available with this codec, the market is in for a treat as this one begins to develop into the growth stage and beyond.

The Future of Pro-Codecs

Over the past two decades, these three codecs have made their mark and started to change the landscape of the video industry for good. With more recent codecs, such as VVC, only at the beginning of their journey – the future is looking bright for the possibilities of video codecs and the desire of an industry that strives to reach the pinnacle of performance and quality.

It's not a far stretch to say that these three codecs are likely to live happily ever after, continuing to hold the video industry up alongside its constant evolutions. In the years to come, there are even more capabilities to explore, with codec enhancements such as LCEVC potentially providing a sustainable route into the vast universe of video codecs, extending the useful life of some codecs while further boosting the capabilities of others. This is a door yet to be fully opened, which could see an increase in its popularity going forward.

To learn more about how MainConcept’s wide range of SDK solutions, including AVC/H.264, HEVC/H.265 and VVC.H.266 can future-proof your broadcast workflows and provide enhanced performance, quality and compatibility, simply visit our website


Deacon Johnson

Deacon Johnson, SVP and General Manager at MainConcept, has 20+ years of experience in professional and consumer digital audio and video media technology. With six online technology patents, he brings in-depth knowledge as well as passion and creativity into all of his endeavors—which range from intellectual property creation and licensing to business strategy/development and marketing. Deacon has worked for organizations such as Prima Cinema, Inc., DivX, Yahoo! and Intel. He studied Business Administration at Oregon State University, enjoys spending time with his family and traveling, and is a voracious reader of non-fiction audiobooks.