You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Netflix Responds to Backlash Over Variable Playback Speed Test

Netflix responded to the uproar caused by its test of variable playback speeds late Tuesday, pointing out in a blog post that similar features had long been available on DVD players. The company also said that it had no immediate plans to make the feature available to all of its members.

The streaming service recently began testing variable playback speeds with a small subset of its users on Android. After word about the test got out, Netflix received harsh criticism from a number of creatives, including Judd Apatow, Aaron Paul, and Brad Bird.

“No. That’s not how it works. Distributors don’t get to change the way the content is presented,” Apatow tweeted on Monday.

“This last test has generated a fair amount of feedback – both for and against,” admitted Netflix vice president Keela Robison 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.”

Netflix also explained that it was automatically correcting the pitch of a movie’s or TV show’s audio when sped up or slowed down with the tested feature. What’s more, Netflix’s app doesn’t allow users who are part of the test group to set a different playback speed setting as their default. Instead, they have to change the setting every single time.

Popular on Variety

Robison argued in her blog post that the feature could help users who are watching a title in a foreign language, or users who want to watch their favorite scene to catch additional details. She also said that the feature had been frequently requested by the company’s subscribers, and promised that Netflix would take any feedback into account before deciding whether to add variable playback speeds as a feature to its new app.

Netflix regularly tests a wide range of features with subsets of its audience. The playback speed test is part of an ongoing series of tests of player features, according to a company spokesperson. Other features tested include easier access to screen brightness, the ability to watch videos with a locked screen, and other advanced playback controls.

More Digital


    Lilly Singh Mocks Disney Plus 'Outdated Cultural Depictions' Warnings for Racist Movies

    Lilly Singh lampooned Disney Plus’ disclaimer that certain older movies include “outdated cultural depictions” on her NBC show. The YouTube and late-night TV comedian took issue with Disney’s euphemistic phrasing — pointing out that the warning is really about the “racist” tropes in decades-old movies that were made for kids. Disney Plus includes “a bunch [...]

  • Sacha Baron Cohen

    Sacha Baron Cohen Rips Into Facebook, YouTube and Twitter for Spreading Lies and Hate

    Calling social media “the greatest propaganda machine in history,” and the CEOs of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube “high-tech robber barons,” comedian Sacha Baron Cohen used a speech given to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) this week to call for much more stringent regulation of internet companies. “By now, it’s pretty clear they cannot be trusted to [...]

  • Liza Koshy

    Liza Koshy to Host Dance-Competition Series — With a Moving Dance Floor — for Quibi

    YouTube star and comedian Liza Koshy will preside over a dance-competition reality series coming to Quibi — a kind of mashup of “So You Think You Can Dance” and “Wipeout.” In “Floored,” two opposing teams of skilled dancers will try their best to perform a routine while the dance floor itself actually lifts, tilts, drops, [...]

  • Instagram tests hiding likes

    Instagram Hiding Likes: U.S. Users Have Mixed Emotions About the Move, Survey Finds

    Instagram this month began a test to hide “likes” for U.S. users, and last week the social platform announced that it will be rolling out the change everywhere in the world. The move ticked off some big influencers, including Nicki Minaj, who said on Twitter that she’s going to stop posting to Instagram because of [...]

  • Neal Kirsch

    Former OWN COO Neal Kirsch Joins Gaming TV Network VENN (EXCLUSIVE)

    The Video Game Entertainment and News Network (VENN) is staffing up ahead of its 2020 launch: VENN has hired former Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) and Discovery Networks executive Neal Kirsch as its new COO & CFO, the company is scheduled to announce Thursday. Kirsch served until late 2016 as the COO & CFO of Oprah’s [...]

  • Spotify Awards

    Spotify Is Launching Its Own Music Awards, Based on Streaming Data

    Spotify has set plans for its first-ever music awards — with the winners based entirely on user-generated data. “Your plays, patterns, and habits will help determine the award categories, finalists, and winners for the Spotify Awards by providing a true reflection of what fans are listening to,” the company said in announcing the program Friday. [...]

  • YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki

    YouTube CEO to Burned-Out Creators: Data Shows It's OK to Take a Break From Posting

    Stressed-out YouTube creators anxious that their channels will take a traffic hit if they take a mental-health break shouldn’t worry, according to YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki: She says a data analysis showed that, on average, YouTubers get even more views when they return after a hiatus. In a Nov. 21 open letter to creators, Wojcicki [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content