Having tested the feature last year, Netflix is now making it official: the ability to watch shows and movies at a faster or slower speed is rolling out to its app on Android devices, and coming soon to iOS and the web.
Netflix confirmed the move to The Verge, and in an official post, Netflix's Keela Robison said that the feature has been "much requested" by subscribers. Robison also notes that playback speed controls have been available on DVD players and DVRs for years.
"Most important of all, our tests show that consumers value the flexibility it provides whether it's rewatching their favorite scene or slowing things down because they're watching with subtitles or have hearing difficulties," writes Robison.
Netflix also says that user surveys suggest that "perceptions of the content's quality" aren't affected by changes in the speed. Even so, content creators are unlikely to be pleased with the move, and Robison says Netflix will be listening to feedback.
Speed up, slow down
If you want to slow down your binge watching, 0.5x and 0.75x speeds will be available; if you want to speed it up, you can opt for 1.25x or 1.5x. Similar options have been accessible on YouTube for years, though Google's platform gives you a choice from 0.25x all the way up to 2x.
Settings won't be 'remembered' across multiple titles, so everything you watch will start playing at normal speed until you change it. In other words, there's no master switch to watch everything on Netflix at half speed.
The feature should start appearing on Android from today, but Netflix hasn't provided any timeframe for bringing the controls to iOS or its web player ("testing" will now begin on those platforms, apparently). There's no mention of this coming to smart TVs or other platforms yet.
Whatever the thoughts of directors and producers, Netflix will point to the accessibility benefits of the playback speed controls to sell them – closed captions will automatically adjust with the speed, so they could be really useful for people with hearing difficulties, for example.