Netflix has begun testing variable playback speeds in its Android app, which could be the first step to the feature becoming available on all Netflix platforms. As reported by Variety, the feature allows viewers to play movies and TV shows at lower or greater speeds, from as slow as 0.5x to as quickly as 1.5x.
Adjustable playback speeds have long been a feature on audio streaming devices, allowing listeners to get through audiobooks and podcasts at a greater speed, if for some reason you just can’t wait to find out what happens on this week’s episode of The Joe Rogan Experience. And YouTube gives users the ability to adjust the speed of any video they watch on the platform, which is useful when you’re wading through cooking tutorials and want to skip past the introductory five minutes in which the presenter tells an anecdote about how lasagna always reminds them of 3rd grade.
But variable playback speeds may seem like a puzzling addition to add to films and TV shows, unless you’ve ever seen a Terrence Malick film or need to get caught up on all seventeen seasons of Supernatural. That might actually be the most practical application of the feature – appealing to viewers who want to get caught up on certain pop culture touchstones but don’t necessarily have the necessary hours to devote to watching them. I’ve never seen a single episode of Mad Men, but I’d absolutely blaze through the series at 1.5x speed just so I could finally know what the hell everyone was talking about.
Currently, Netflix has only made the feature available on its Android app, which is standard procedure for the streaming giant when it tests out new features. Time will tell if they decide variable playback speeds are successful enough to roll out to all their users.