YouTube Swiftly Converts Videos in WebM Format

Almost a year after Google announced its open-source, royalty-free WebM video format, YouTube began transcoding newly uploaded videos into the format. YouTube says the majority of its most viewed videos are available in WebM, which would equate to around 30 percent of all videos hosted by the site.

All new videos uploaded to YouTube are now automatically transcoded into WebM, a video format based around the VP8 codec, intended for use with HTML5 video. Backed by Google, Mozilla, and Opera, to name a few, WebM is a competitor of the H.264 format, backed by Apple and predominantly used for mobile video because of the lack of Flash support on iOS devices.

Besides new videos, YouTube is also working to transcode its entire video catalog to WebM. James Zern, a software engineer at YouTube, wrote on the company's blog that "So far we've already transcoded videos that make up 99% of views on the site or nearly 30% of all videos into WebM."

Zern also explained how YouTube is working to convert the rest of the videos into the WebM format: "It works like this: at busy upload times, our processing power is dedicated to new uploads, and at less busy times, our cloud will automatically switch some of our processing to encode older videos into WebM."

Google has been pushing for its competing video format this year. The company announced in January that Google Chrome would drop support for the Apple-backed H.264 format. Google also released a WebM video plugin for Internet Explorer 9 from Microsoft, in an effort to bring the codec to a previously unsupported browser.

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