The Hustle

Netflix’s new variable playback feature lets you chill at warp speed

Netflix began testing a feature that would let viewers watch content at 0.5x speed and 1.5x speed, stirring up controversy among creators and critics alike.

October 31, 2019

Netflix is testing a hyper-binge feature that has some in the film industry pissed. It offers audiences the opportunity to mainline content at almost double speed… bypassing the creators’ artistic vision.

Is this healthy?

Is your candy corn fixation healthy, Karen? Who cares? Variable playback is huge in other areas like podcasts and audiobooks. So why not TV and video?

Last week, a site called Android Police reported on rumors that Netflix was testing a feature that would allow viewers to take in content at 0.5x, 0.75x, 1.25x, or 1.5x speeds. 

Want to learn a language or immerse yourself in a favorite scene? Done. Want to blast through several seasons of a new show or hit the high points of an old favorite? You get the idea.

Yesterday, Netflix confirmed this is a go… for now.

But this is not art!

Judd Apatow, the auteur behind such hits as “Girls” and “Knocked Up,” is not pleased. He took to Twitter and vowed to “call every director and show creator on Earth” to fight Netflix on this option. Apatow argues that creatives put a ton of work into establishing plot and pacing.

Netflix says it will test viewer feedback to determine whether variable playback becomes a permanent feature.

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