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Netflix testing controversial new variable speed feature

by Sean P. Aune | October 29, 2019October 29, 2019 9:26 am EST

Netflix relies on creative producers to feed its endless hunger for more content. A recent test of a new feature, however, has gotten the creative people in an uproar should it ever roll out to all customers.

A recent update to Netflix’s Android app made it possible for subscribers to change the playback speed of what they are watching. The options include 0.5x, 0.75x, 1.0x, 1.25x, and 1.5x. In theory, this could allow someone to speed up how fast they binged new content if they wanted to make sure they could talk about Stranger Things 4 the next day at work.

Variable speed playback has become a staple of podcasts, but it is not something we have seen roll out in video, and actors and directors don’t seem thrilled. Judd Apatow tweeted, “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 f*** with our timing. We give you nice things. Leave them as they were intended to be seen.”

He was most assuradly not alone in these feelings.

Netflix issued a statement to Entertainment Weekly saying, “We’re always experimenting with new ways to help members use Netflix. This test makes it possible to vary the speed at which people watch shows on their mobiles. As with any test, it may not become a permanent feature on Netflix.”

Seeing the amount of backlash it has received from the creative folks that Netflix depends on, something tells us this feature is going to quietly disappear.

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Sean P. Aune

Sean Aune has been a pop culture aficionado since before there was even a term for pop culture. From the time his father brought home Amazing