Netflix Inc. is experimenting with a feature that lets viewers watch movies at up to 1.5 times the usual speed, testing an approach that has become popular with podcasts and YouTube clips. The option is available on Android mobile devices, but Netflix cautioned that it may not become a permanent feature. “We’re always experimenting with new ways to help members use Netflix,” the company said in a statement Monday. The Android Police website previously reported on the test.
Other forms of media have already embraced faster playback speed. YouTube lets viewers watch clips at up to 2 times the normal rate, as does Apple’s podcast app. The feature lets podcast listeners gobble up lengthy series in half the time — with the side effect of chipmunk-sounding voices. Likewise, a YouTube user can watch a 10-minute cooking video in five or six minutes.
But the approach is more controversial when it comes to videos that people consider art. Netflix has developed a reputation for challenging the norms of entertainment, often in ways that offend more tradition-bound viewers. The company has offended cinephiles by pushing for movies to be released at home at the same time they appear in theaters and allowing viewers to skip opening credits.
Director Judd Apatow objected to the move on Monday, telling Netflix he would call “every director and show creator on Earth to fight you on this.” “We give you nice things,” he said on Twitter. “Leave them as they were intended to be seen.”
Actor Aaron Paul, who recently starred in Netflix film El Camino, also protested the move. “Stop … There is NO WAY @netflix will move forward with this. That would mean they are completely taking control of everyone else’s art and destroying it. Netflix is far better than that. Am I right Netflix,” he wrote.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse director Peter Ramsey tweeted: “Does everything have to be designed for the laziest and most tasteless?” Brad Bird, the director of The Incredibles and Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol called it “another spectacularly bad idea” and “another cut to the already bleeding-out cinema experience”.