Netflix Debuts New Feature That Lets You Binge Watch Faster

Netflix has added a speed control feature, allowing users to watch shows and movies slower or faster if they want to. The new feature resembles that of a similar feature available on YouTube and on many other media apps such as podcast or audiobook players. Not everyone is thrilled about this new option, however.

Netflix has teased its speed control feature for some time now, and it is finally here. So far, it has debuted only on Android devices, and only on the Netflix app — not in web browsers. The option is located at the bottom of the screen, and when clicked it expands into a menu offering five playback speed options. In addition to watching at the normal pace, users can watch their content slowed down at half-speed — 0.5x, three-quarter speed — 0.75x, or they can speed it up to 1.25x or even 1.5x.

Using this feature, a binge-watcher on a schedule could get through a 20-minute TV episode in 15 minutes. However, many critics have said that this option will only encourage short attention spans and partial engagement with content that could be more meaningful at its intended pace. Many of this criticism comes directly from creators, including directors and editors of film and TV on social media.

"This is totally disrespectful to the casts, crews, writers and directors who provide your content [Netflix]," tweeted actor Bradley Whitford. "Please don't do this."

"On the one hand, this is an abomination," added Rolling Stone critic Alan Sepinwall. "On the other, way too many Netflix dramas are so skimpy with plot and characterization that they seem built to be watched at least 1.5x speed."

Still, these criticisms were quickly met with counter-arguments that gave some pause, particularly the praise from the National Association of the Deaf and the National Federation of the Blind. They asserted that the feature will be a huge help to those who read closed captions or those who need to listen more closely to the audio. In that respect, many argued that it was good to see Netflix embracing an often-overlooked form of accessibility.

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Moreover, many users pointed out that their DVD or Blu-ray players included a playback speed control option as well, so this feature is not necessarily new to home entertainment, just to the world of streaming. They encouraged film purists to watch movies however they wanted and leave others to do the same.

So far, Netflix has not announced plans for adding the playback speed control feature to its apps on other operating systems. The first reviews from Android users are just beginning to roll in.