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Netflix’s Varying Playback Speeds Tests Face Major Pushback From Filmmakers

Stephanie Sengwe

Last week, reports came out that Netflix was testing variable playback speeds in its Android app. The feature would allows users watch their show at the speed of their liking. Netflix, Android Police reported, had been testing speeds ranging from 0.5x—which would be useful if you want to watch a scene in slow motion—all the way to 1.5x, which can come in handy if a documentary or stand-up special is moving a bit too slow.

Well, after confirming that they will be rolling out the test across all smartphones, Netflix is facing major backlash from filmmakers. Famed producer Judd Apatow, who co-created the Netflix series Love, was adamant in expressing his disdain towards the feature. “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 f*ck with our timing. We give you nice things. Leave them as they were intended to be seen,” he tweeted.

He added, “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.”

Fellow filmmakers Jay Chandrasekhar and Peter Ramsey agreed with Apatow’s statement. The Incredibles director Brad Bird also tweeted, “Whelp— another spectacularly bad idea, and another cut to the already bleeding-out cinema experience. Why support & finance filmmakers visions on one hand and then work to destroy the presentation of those films on the other???”

Netflix was quick to try and appease the situation, telling Hollywood Reporter, “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.”

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