Netflix responded to backlash over its recent playback speed experiment.
The experiment, which began appearing on a limited number of Android phones last week, allowed users to adjust the playback speed of video content. Speeds included 0.5x, 0.75x, 1x (normal), 1.25x and 1.5x options.
Despite the limited and experimental nature of the feature, several content creators took to social media to bash Netflix. Judd Apatow, Aaron Paul and Brad Bird all criticized the company over the decision.
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
In a recent blog post, Netflix says it was “sensitive to creator concerns” and hasn’t brought the feature to bigger screens like TVs. Additionally, it said it automatically corrects the pitch of audio when sped up or slowed down. Finally, users can’t set a default playback speed. Instead, those with access to the feature have to change playback every time they start new content.
Netflix argued the feature could help users watching a foreign-language title, or those who want to rewatch favourite scenes to catch every detail. On top of that, the company says that DVD players have offered variable playback speed for some time.
Further, Netflix says its subscribers have requested the feature for a long time.
Ultimately, the controversy seems rather overblown. While on the one side, it’s understandable that content creators want people to experience it as intended (say, at regular playback speed), offering variable playback speeds could open up content to many more people. Plus, other platforms provide variable playback speed options.
For those who really don’t like the feature, don’t use it. Netflix isn’t forcing anyone to activate it.
You can read more about Netflix’s response on the blog post here.