Despite controversy, Netflix is adding video speed controls on mobile

Brittany A. Roston - Jul 31, 2020, 4:34 pm CDT
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Despite controversy, Netflix is adding video speed controls on mobile

Despite the controversy in the creative community regarding video speed adjustment features, Netflix has decided to move ahead and give its users this option — at least those who watch on an Android phone or tablet. With this option, users will be able to speed up or slow down the rate at which content plays, making it possible to get through your favorite shows and movies more quickly.

The idea of being able to speed up videos and audio in order to get through it faster — and, in some cases, to slow it down so you can better digest the material — isn’t new. A number of older DVD players, for example, included support for adjusting video playback speed and similar functionality has become common in the podcast and audiobook industries.

When it comes to videos, however, creators tend to push back against playback speed adjustments — the same is true with aspect ratio changes, as well, though the industry doesn’t seem to have such a tendency toward backlash regarding TV and video devices that give users personal control over the cropping.

Netflix first indicated that it would give users playback speed controls last year, prompting criticism from some in Hollywood who state the content should only be viewed in the way intended by its creator — and obviously, videos played at 1.25x their regular speed will cause some pacing and audio changes that deviate from the original.

Despite that, The Verge reports that Netflix is rolling out playback speed options for Android phone and tablet users. Users will be able to slow videos down to 0.75x or 0.5x, plus there is the option of speeding videos up by 1.25x and 1.5x. The feature will start rolling out on August 1, but not everyone will get it on that day.

Netflix will automatically adjust the pitch of audio in videos with altered playback speeds in an effort to avoid disruptions of that sort. There’s an obvious benefit to this feature, one that — to many consumers — is more important than maintaining the original nature of the film: it doesn’t take as long to watch a show. Fast playback makes it possible to binge-watch a show in a shorter period of time, as well as helping users catch up on content that many other people are talking about.


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