Netflix Responds To Playback Speed Backlash

Netflix Responds To Playback Speed Backlash

In the wake of news breaking about its test on some Android devices of variable playback speeds for its content, Netflix has responded to the ensuing uproar in a blog post which dismisses the criticisms lobbed at it by some filmmakers online including Judd Apatow and Brad Bird.

Variable playback speeds have long been available on disc players, computer media players and on that most popular of online video platforms YouTube. The function allows people to watch or listen to a work at either 50% or 150% the speed of what the source material was recorded at.

The news was hit with some disbelief online, oddly quite a bit of it from people happy to admit they use said function on audiobooks or podcasts but seem appalled by the prospect of doing it with a video format. Filmmakers meanwhile are more upset over what is essentially distributors allowing a way to change the way a piece of content is presented.

Netflix vice president Keela Robison says in the company’s blog post: “We’ve been sensitive to creator concerns and haven’t included bigger screens, in particular TVs, in this test.” Interestingly they confirmed they are automatically correcting the pitch of a movie’s or TV show’s audio when sped up or slowed down with the tested feature. Also the playback speed setting has to be changed every single time with 100% speed the default and no way to change that.

The feature has reportedly been frequently requested by the company’s subscribers, and Netflix promises to take any feedback into account before deciding whether to add variable playback speeds as a feature to its new app. The company says it had no immediate plans to make the feature available to all of its members.