Netflix Variable Playback Speeds Experiment Raises Some Filmmakers’ Ire


Some filmmakers reacted angrily today to Netflix’s experiment with a variable playback speed, which allows viewers to watch TV shows and movies at slower or faster speeds on the service.

The streamer announced the experiment today after testing it with Android app users last week. The feature is available for Android mobile users only at present and is one of several tests being conducted. Users must opt-in to use the new feature.  A Netflix source indicated that creator concerns are one reason it isn’t available on bigger screens at present.

Among the not-happy crowd were filmmakers Judd Apatow, Jay Chandrasekhar, and Brad Bird, with Aaron Paul and Payton Reed also weighing in.

Andriod Police claims the new feature gives viewers the ability to slow the speed to 0.5x or 0.75x, or raise it to 1.25x or 1.5x. In effect, it allows you to watch in slow motion or make the boring parts go quicker.

Apatow wasn’t having it. A series of tweets showed increasing vitriol from the director and threats to marshall his friends in the industry.

“No @Netflix no,” the director tweeted. “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.”

Netflix was calm amid the storm. “We’re always experimenting with new ways to help members use Netflix,” said a spokesman’s statement. “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.”

Some of the online reactions:

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