Netflix testing out variable playback speeds on mobile

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If you’ve ever wanted to watch something on Netflix a little bit faster or slower, you might get your wish soon. The video streaming giant has confirmed rumors that they are testing out playback speed controls on Android devices that would let you slow down or speed up a video you’re watching, depending on your preference. While this may be useful for consumers, not everyone is pleased, specifically creators, actors, and directors. So we may actually not see the feature, depending on the general feedback they get.

According to Android Police, they were receiving reports about this test a few weeks ago but have now only received confirmation from Netflix that they are indeed trying it out. If you’re part of the test group, you’ll see options to slow down your video speed to 0.5x to 0.75x or to speed it up to 1.25x or 1.5x. If you’re trying to learn a new language or if you want to review a scene in slow motion, then you’ll choose to do the former. But if you’re re-watching something or you want to speed up a slow documentary, then you’ll do the latter.

Understandably, creators and directors are not happy with this possible development. Judd Apatow says he’ll call on every director and show creator “on Earth” to pressure them not to do this. Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul says that doing this will let Netflix take control of and destroy everyone else’s art. Ant-Man director Peyton Reed simply said it’s a terrible idea and that all directors will be against this.

Netflix responded by clarifying they’re only testing this out on mobile and as part of their “respect” for creator’s concerns, they are not doing it on larger TVs and that they’re automatically correcting the pitch at different speeds. The speed setting will also not be a default and users will need to set this for every video. Will this be enough to calm the creators and directors? Probably not.

Netflix’ sort-of final word on this is that they will not be rolling out any of these tests anytime soon. Whether or not they do eventually make it a feature depends on the “feedback we receive”. And based on how their content providers are reacting, we may not see this feature anytime soon, if ever.

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