A couple of days ago, Netflix announced that is would be experimenting with different playback speed options for select content. Naturally, Netflix is no strangers to ruffling the feathers of movie studios, and this latest offering wasn't well-received by subscribers. Seeking to clarify what this new function has to offer, Netflix’s Vice President Keela Robison had this to say;
"This is a mobile-only test and gives people the ability to vary the speed at which they watch on phones or tablets - choosing from normal to slower (0.5X or 0.75X) or faster (1.25X and 1.5X). It’s a feature that has long been available on DVD players - and has been frequently requested by our members. For example, people looking to rewatch their favourite scene or wanting to go slower because it’s a foreign language title."
While the benefit to "rewatching your favourite scene" is already super easy (you just drag the player head), I will agree that slowing things down for foreign language releases could be a good idea. I can't watch dubbed versions of anything; you lose so much in the translation, so subtitles are a must. If you've watched the brilliant series Dark, you'll know that catching everything said can be challenging. On that level, the new feature could be useful. For now, the playback speed feature is only available on the mobile app, and according to Robison is still in its early stages.
"We’ve been sensitive to creator concerns and haven’t included bigger screens, in particular TVs, in this test. We’ve also automatically corrected the pitch in the audio at faster and slower speeds. In addition, members must choose to vary the speed each time they watch something new - versus Netflix maintaining their settings based on their last choice. We have no plans to roll any of these tests out in the short term. And whether we introduce these features for everyone at some point will depend on the feedback we receive."
So there you have it, Netflix has no immediate plans to make this a standard feature on all devices, and like all things, you don't have to use it if you don't want to, it is optional after all. I used to know a guy who watched everything on his phone at 1.5 speed as he was determined to watch as much as possible on the daily commute. After a while, he started watching everything at that higher speed, and watching movies with him became impossible. Regardless of how much entertainment there is to keep up with, I will always opt to watch a film or TV show the way the makers intended it.