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Netflix Trying Out Variable Playback Speeds for Videos

LOS GATOS, Calif.—Multiple publications have reported that Netflix has begun testing variable playback speeds for TV shows and movies through its app on Android devices. The streaming service is allowing a subset of Android users to watch its content at speeds that range from 0.5x (half speed) to 1.5x.

Being able to customize the playback speed is a popular feature with podcasts, and some reports speculate that Netflix subscribers may use these sped up rates for content like documentaries or stand-up specials.

Netflix provided a statement to Variety confirming the tests:

“We’re always looking for new ways to help our fans enjoy content they love, so we’re testing playback speed options on mobile devices. Our tests generally vary in how long they run for and in which countries they run in, and they may or may not become permanent features on our service.”

Update: Netflix has responded to criticism from the likes of Judd Apatow, Brad Bird and Aaron Paul about its recent tests of variable playback speeds for content. The streamer stressed that this test is for mobile devices only—phones and tablets—but that it is a feature that has been requested in the past by its customers, though in the short term there are no plans to roll out the service.

“We've been sensitive to creator concerns and haven't included bigger screens, in particular TVs, in this test,” Netflix said in its blog post. “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.”