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Netflix’s controversial new feature sparks criticism from filmmakers

Published Oct 29th, 2019 9:26AM EDT
Netflix App Features

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A report from a few days ago revealed a brand new feature that Netflix has been testing on Android devices recently: Support for variable playback speed. Netflix has confirmed that the feature is indeed in testing on some devices, just as some moviemakers have voiced their concerns against the feature.

Variable playback speed options would help users slow scenes down to half the regular speed or speed them up to 1.5x the original speed, and the feature might come in handy when it comes to consuming content on the go.

However, there’s no telling if the feature will ever see a wide release. The company often tests new features, with a Netflix spokesperson confirming to BGR that while the feature does exist, it’s still just a test:

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.

Some filmmakers aren’t happy with the feature, as it alters their creations. Judd Apatow, who made Love for Netflix, voiced his concerns on Twitter:

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.

Distributors don’t get to change the way the content is presented. Doing so is a breaking of trust and won’t be tolerated by the people who provide it. Let the people who don’t care put it in their contracts that they don’t care. Most all do.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Super Troopers’ creators Jay Chandrasekhar and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’s Peter Ramsey also echoed Apatow’s concerns:

Brad Bird, the director of The Incredibles also took to Twitter to respond to the news that Netflix had been testing support for variable speed playback:

The feature is only available on Android so far, and only to those users who chose to be a part of Netflix tests.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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