Netflix drew major backlash when it announced in the fall of 2019 that the streaming giant was beta testing variable playback speeds. Filmmakers, including Judd Apatow and Brad Bird, slammed the move to allow users to stream content up to .5 times slower or 1.5 times faster. Now, Android users are officially able to control their streams on their mobile devices, letting audiences manage the speed of their binge-watching in the palms of their hands.
The Verge reports that users can “stream at either 0.5x or 0.75x speeds for slowed-down viewing and 1.25x or 1.5x speeds for faster watching,” but that “subscribers must opt in to use the playback speeds with every single title they want to watch; it won’t just remain active when you pick something else to watch. This prevents people from accidentally watching everything at 1.5x speed if they don’t want to.” The feature reportedly became available on August 1.
The Verge report also states that Netflix is working to ameliorate concerns in the creative community as well as for the user experience, including correcting “the pitch in the audio at faster and slower speeds,” a spokesperson told the outlet. “We’ve also been mindful of the concerns of some creators…It’s why we have capped the range of playback speeds and require members to vary the speed each time they watch something new — versus fixing their settings based on the last speed they used.”
“The feature has been much requested by members for years,” Keela Robison, Netflix’s vice president of product innovation, said. “Most important of all, our tests show that consumers value the flexibility it provides whether it’s rewatching their favorite scene or slowing things down because they’re watching with subtitles or have hearing difficulties.”
When it was announced back in October, Judd Apatow wrote on Twitter, “No, Netflix, no. Don’t make me have to call every director and show creator on Earth to fight you on this. Save me the time. I will win but it will take a ton of time. Don’t fuck with our timing. We give you nice things. Leave them as they were intended to be seen.”
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” editor Kate Sanford tweeted on Saturday, “I am an editor who works very hard in collaboration with filmmakers to set the intended pace. I am 100% against this feature. The work should be judged as intended.”
The company is also reported to be in the early stages of testing out the feature of iOS.