Netflix is adding controversial control over content speed

Time is running out to get your fix of The Office before it leaves Netflix in 2021. It may not be the solution fans wanted, but the streaming giant has found a way to slow things down and let you savor your last rewatch of the hit sitcom.

Literally.

Netflix has added playback speed controls to Android mobile devices. If you’re on an Android phone or tablet, you’ll be able to slow down or speed up content based on how slowly or quickly you want to binge something.

Netflix confirmed the incoming feature via an update to its blog post regarding player control tests, adding that it will begin to test this feature on iOS devices and on the web.

Options for slowing down content are either 0.5× or 0.75× speed, while you can speed things up to either 1.25× or 1.5×. Speeds reset to normal with each different title you watch, meaning you won’t accidentally watch The Last Dance too quickly after speeding through Tiger King. The feature is said to be rolling out August 1, with availability going global over the next few weeks.

This isn’t exactly a popular decision by Netflix, at least as far as members of the movie industry are concerned. Back in 2019, when Netflix was testing the playback feature with select Android users, several prominent actors and movie makers spoke out against the idea.

Judd Apatow, the popular writer, director, and producer, warned Netflix about tampering with carefully timed sequences in movies and TV scenes designed by filmmakers.

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. https://t.co/xkprLM44oC

— Judd Apatow (@JuddApatow) October 28, 2019

Breaking Bad star Aaron Paul and The Incredibles director Brad Bird also hit back at Netflix at the time, each in effect saying that offering these kinds of controls would effectively be taking control of someone else’s art and destroying it.

Whelp— another spectacularly bad idea, and another cut to the already bleeding-out cinema experience. Why support & finance filmmakers visions on one hand and then work to destroy the presentation of those films on the other??? https://t.co/T7QdYAQGHU

— Brad Bird (@BradBirdA113) October 28, 2019

Netflix, in its blog update, said the feature was well-received by its members. The company also said the feature was heavily requested by subscribers, and tests have shown it adds flexibility that viewers value.

Netflix also noted that the National Association of the Deaf and the National Federation of the Blind have both welcomed this feature. To be mindful of content creators, Netflix said it has made sure to cap the range of playback speeds and require viewers to adjust the speed each time they watch something new.

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