This isn't "Idealism vs. pragmatism" its "short term pragmatism" vs "long term pragmatism".
…Unless someone actually thinks it's pragmatic to pay $5m/yr for the foreseeable future (with potentially higher fees in the future) just for a single entity to distribute a _single_ application under terms which are not free software friendly.
And of course, this doesn't end in 2028 (or whenever the patents on AVC expire, which is probably much further out because they'll keep adding patents to the pool as they've done for MPEG2) because by that time rolls around there will be H.266 which much better compression, funded by the billions of dollars of extortion income and offered for lower cost licensing terms than H.264 will have at that time (go look at MPEG2 prices vs AVC— they effectively pay you to move off old formats to formats with further patent expiration dates).
So we'll be in the same boat— where the extortion-enabled formats remain more popular, propped up by superlarge companies operating far above the cap and through promotion by rights holders that pay prorated rates due to cross licensing (like Microsoft and Apple).
Because "the codec argument" is overwhelmingly about compatibility the only way out is for a royalty free codec to achieve critical mass market share by being a (defacto) mandatory to implement codec in popular client software. Once this happens the money faucet will dry up for patent encumbered codecs, and we'll start seeing the billions going to the codec industry stop being used to pay for minefields and either go to collaboration on open codecs (after all, the codec efficiency improvements are worth a lot of money to a lot of people who need to ship around media) or be diverted to other profitable ventures.
Unfortunately, a defacto mandatory to implement standard can only come about through incompatibility— which is a path that is extremely painful in the short term.