Don’t you just wish you could start a two-hour movie one hour before your bedtime and still be asleep on time? Now might be your chance. Netflix is testing a feature that lets viewers watch movies on its streaming site at up to 1.5 times the usual speed, something done now with podcasts and YouTube clips. While this is helpful to absorb a lengthy podcast in half the time or see an instructional video quickly, its use in movies is another story.

Film industry creatives believe the feature could disrupt the way their art was intended to be viewed, and they have objected forcefully. Netflix responded to criticism by defending its decision and explaining that the feature has long been available on DVD players and viewers request it to re-watch favourite scenes or read foreign films’ subtitles in a slower mode.

The company says it tried to keep the concerns of creatives in mind while introducing this feature, allowing it only on mobile Android devices and not larger screens. They say they also corrected the pitch in audio that such playbacks would cause and don’t use it as a default setting. Members must select the feature when they wish to watch a movie with it.

Of course, Netflix is no stranger to controversy. People also objected to its decision to release movies for view at home at the same time they are released in the theatres and when the streaming service introduced an option to skip opening credits on some of its shows and films.

For now, the speed feature is only a limited, temporary option. The decision to make it available to everyone will be based on the customer feedback. Whether or not they make the change permanent will be show where the company’s ideals lay – with those who value traditional movie viewing or with those who have enjoyed the company’s pioneering break from tradition in the past, catapulting it into the popular, streaming service it has become.


Sources: Bloomberg; Cinema Blend