Netflix Added A New Feature That Some Subscribers Have Been Waiting Ages For

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(Image credit: netflix press)

One of Netflix's key advantages – or disadvantages, depending on how you view such things – is the sheer number of TV series and movies for customers to catch up on, which includes both original and licensed programming. It's all but impossible for most people to find the time to binge-watch everything the streaming service has to offer, but Netflix has added a new feature that could help certain subscribers watch more shows without adding more viewing time to their days.

That's right, Netflix has finally answered many a customer's call and has officially added a setting that lets viewers adjust playback speeds for whatever they're watching, from stand-up specials to musicals to reality competitions. Starting August 1, viewers can speed shows and movies up to 1.25x or 1.5x to allow for more weekly binging without making more weekly commitments. Or, alternately, you can slow shows and movies down to .75x and .5x speeds to possibly dwell longer on the beautiful imagery in docuseries like Our Planet or Night on Earth, or to make things easier on those who have trouble keeping up with subtitled projects.

As it often goes, there is a catch. According to The Verge, the playback-speed setting is going wide in the U.S., and will be available globally in the next few weeks, but it's currently only available to use by those watching Netflix on an Android phone or tablet. (The latest update noted videos' speeds, though customers haven't been able to change them.) As such, it likely won't be found through web-based browsers or devices such as a Roku or an Amazon Fire Stick just yet, unless your account happens to be one of the random ones being used for ongoing testing purposes.

You might recall back in 2019 when the feature was first announced to be hitting the test phase, Netflix drew ire from various Hollywood filmmakers such as Judd Apatow and Brad Bird who didn't think Netflix had a right to alter how a movie gets viewed. The streaming company defended itself at the time by saying speed-changing features have long been available on DVD and Blu-ray players, and that users often directly requested that from Netflix. True to its word at the time, the company is only offering two respective speeds for making videos slower and faster, as not to completely disturb the quality of the video and audio. In that way, it's different from YouTube and others that allow more playback options.

In fact, Netflix has worked diligently to make sure the creative content isn't being disrupted by the speed changes. For instance, special attention was paid to make sure audio pitches don't shift in either direction when videos are quickened or slowed down. One can assume that similar attention was paid to the visual side of things.

As well, Netflix confirmed that the normal 1x playback speed will be the default setting each time someone watches a new video, making it so that viewers are required to physically change the setting every time. That's a concession of sorts to Hollywood's creative forces, indicating it will always be the customer, and not Netflix, that decides how a TV show or film is watched. Plus, the company will be keeping an eye on usage and feedback to make tweaks down the line.

What say you all? Does changing speeds for Netflix shows sound like a great idea or a bad one? Let us know in the poll below. And while waiting to hear more about this feature and others coming down the line, head to our Netflix 2020 TV premiere schedule to see what's on the way.

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Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.