Have you ever wanted to change the playback speed of Netflix? Doing so will allow you to watch movies and TV shows more quickly. YouTube offers variable playback speeds, but for a while it looked like Netflix would be reluctant to officially support this feature.
But now, you can watch shows and movies faster than normal or slower than expected. So how can you access Netflix’s variable playback speeds? It’s easy to do, at least when viewed on browsers, Android and iOS devices, and certain smart TVs, so we’ll show you how.
What is variable playback speed on Netflix?
Speeding up or slowing down content on Netflix allows consumers to watch content a little faster (1.2x) or much faster (1.5x). It also offers slower options (0.5x and 0.7x), perfect for those who love to analyze their favorite media. The audio pitch also changes to match the new speed at which you are viewing.
Netflix first tested this feature in 2019, but it proved controversial, particularly with filmmakers who thought the streaming service was manipulating the way a production should be viewed. You’ll probably lose some nuance if you’re speeding up content, for example. The directors and writers argued that they craft their products a certain way and they don’t want viewers to mess with it. Peyton Reed (Ant Man and the Wasp), Brad Bird (The Incredibles) and Judd Apatow (The Bubble) discussed the idea, agreeing that it strays from the filmmakers’ intentions.
On the other hand, Netflix cited movies with subtitles as one of the reasons people may want to watch content more slowly.
There are also valid reasons why viewers might want to watch content faster. For example, maybe you want to watch TV slowly, but not as slowly as everyone else. Slow TV shows usually happen in real time and offer a variety of beautiful views. But if you want to watch the train ride from Bergen to Oslo without having to book seven hours of your life, it makes sense to speed up Netflix.
Please note that playback speed is different from delays. There are numerous reasons why a streaming service can run slow.
How to change video playback speeds on Netflix
Despite the concerns of creatives, Netflix gives you the option to change the speed at which you watch content on its platform. And it’s surprisingly easy to do, that is, if you’re watching in a web browser or the Netflix app for Android and iOS, that is, anything with HTML5.
First, go to the movie or TV show you want to watch. Pause the content. At the bottom of its interface there will be several options, including (on the left) buttons to go back or forward 10 seconds and, on the right, the option to adjust the audio and add or remove subtitles.
On the right of the screen, there is a symbol that looks like a speedometer. Hover over this to bring up a small panel that says “Playback Speed.” It’s set to “1x (Normal)” by default, but you can speed it up by clicking “1.25x” or “1.5x”; or slow down by clicking “0.75x” or “0.5x”.
Can Netflix video playback speeds be changed on smart TVs?
It bears repeating: the method above only works in your web browser, the Netflix app for Android and iOS, or certain smart TVs. Anything that runs HTML5 supports this feature. Those browsers include:
- Google Chrome.
- Microsoft Edge.
So what if you can’t access playback speeds on your smart TV? You may be out of luck, but there is a method worth trying.
Your smart TV should have a web browser, or at least the option to install new ones. If you open it on your TV or install one of the five browsers above and then open it, you may be able to access Netflix there and then get the variable playback options available only through HTML5-enabled apps.
How to adjust Netflix playback speeds further
Having five different playback speeds may not be good enough for what you’re looking for. To further change Netflix playback speed, your best bet is to install a plugin in, say, Google Chrome. So what plugins do we recommend?
video speed controller
The video speed controller allows you to vary speeds in small increments. Normal speed 1.0 is the default. By hovering over the left corner of the screen, you can click the plus or minus buttons to increase or decrease the Netflix playback speed.
If you’re not sure you can view content at much higher speeds, try 1.1x speed. On a 60-minute video, you’ll save six minutes.
Video Speed Controller controls the speed of any HTML5 video and has handy keyboard shortcuts to rewind or fast forward the content.
Discharge: video speed controller
This is a similar plugin that gives you control over videos across all websites. You are not confined to Netflix; SpeedUp can also be used on other streaming platforms like Hulu and Amazon Prime.
Contrary to what its name suggests, SpeedUp can also slow down content. It’s less intensive than Video Speed Controller, so to vary playback speed, it presents you with nine buttons, ranging from 0.75x to 2.25x. Once again, the 1.10x option is a good way to save time without compromising quality.
Discharge: Speed up
Why would you change Netflix playback speeds?
In discussing his experiment, netflix argued:
“Similar functionality has been available in DVD players and DVRs for years and the feature has been highly requested by members. Most important of all, our testing shows that consumers value the flexibility it provides, whether it’s rewatching your favorite scene or slow down because you’re watching with subtitles or are hard of hearing.
But why would anyone want to watch a movie or TV show faster or slower than it was meant to be consumed?
Netflix is right: other services have offered this for years. Few creators criticize YouTube for allowing viewers to speed up content. Similarly, DVD and Blu-ray players often have this functionality. You can also listen to some podcasts sped up, which means you can fit an entire episode in during your ride.
Streaming Netflix content at faster speeds makes more sense for TV shows than movies. Netflix is synonymous with binge-watching, so speeding up content means you can get through a season in record time. So if you’re desperate to catch the next episode of Stranger Things, switching Netflix’s playback speed to 1.5x means you can catch it over lunch.
Is the difference that significant? Just divide the length of the episode or movie (in minutes) by the speed. At 1.5x speed, you can watch a 60 minute show in 40 minutes. A 10-episode series, with each episode being 60 minutes, saves you 100 minutes when viewed at 1.2x speed. The difference in viewing experience between normal speed and 1.2x speed is virtually imperceptible.
And we all experience movies differently. Intentions can differ even between writers and directors; Of course, consumers will also interpret a production in juxtaposed ways. Variable playback speed can also be seen as a way to make content more accessible.
Also, the ability to change the playback speed on Netflix can help people on the autism spectrum, who may find that variable speeds make watching content more fun and satisfying.
Should I change Netflix playback speeds?
As you read this, you have clearly decided to explore the possibility of changing the playback speed on Netflix. As to whether you should do it is up to you. There’s a risk of ruining a great movie if you rush through it, but if you have a genuine need to speed up or slow down Netflix, go ahead. We are not here to judge.
Just remember that regardless of the Netflix playback speed you choose, you should take regular breaks in your binge sessions.