Netflix is testing a playback speed feature and creators aren’t happy

Brittany A. Roston - Oct 29, 2019, 5:41 pm CDT
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Netflix is testing a playback speed feature and creators aren’t happy

Netflix is testing a new variable playback speed feature that many subscribers have been requesting, but not everyone is happy. As with the same feature found on YouTube, Netflix’s playback speed tool allows users to speed up and slow down how fast content is played on the platform. The feature is limited to a test on Android at this time and may not end up deploying widely to other platforms.

Playback speed refers to how fast a particular video is playing. When sped up, the content sounds faster and higher pitched. When slowed down, the content sounds deeper. The ability to adjust playback speed has been popular for many years across multiple mediums; Audible and YouTube are examples of two major platforms that give their customers access to these tools.

As well, playback speed adjustment existed before streaming video was a thing. Many TVs, DVD players, and DVRs have offered the ability to change how fast a video plays and the aspect ratio in which it is presented. Though content purists may not like this, the ability to get through a show faster and to fill the black bars on a screen has remained popular with many consumers.

It’s no surprise that Netflix has started testing the same functionality on its own platform, at least when it comes to playback speed. Some Android users have reported seeing a variable speed playback tool in the Netflix Android app, something that has proven controversial mostly among creators.

Aaron Paul and Judd Apatow are among the creatives denouncing Netflix’s test, prompting the company to stress that this is just a test at this time. The test is only live on mobile and, as with other past tests, it is possible the feature will never roll out as a permanent setting. Beyond that, it’s unclear whether the feature would be limited to mobile if Netflix chooses to keep it.


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