Speeding Up TV Consumption Angers TV Producers

Face it. There’s too much premium TV content to see. What if you could view those TV shows somewhat quicker? Maybe watching an hour-long TV show in 33 minutes, or a 30-minute comedy in 16 minutes.

You just need to fast-forward through the content. No, not that kind of fast-forwarding. Just enough so performers seem to be talking a bit fast, as if they had a couple of Nitro Cold Brews from Starbucks.

Netflix is looking at this feature -- much to the chagrin of big TV/film producers/directors like Judd Apatow, who doesn’t like anyone touching his creative process. Netflix is testing a “variable speed” feature where we can, according to some, “mainline” TV and movies at 1.5 times the speed.



Much of this has to do with binge-watching longtime TV series; people want to catch up. The downside? I’m guessing some quiet, emotional romantic scenes may now have a comedic, less emotional, appeal.

But think behind the binge to sampling new TV shows. Maybe producers ultimately might be happy here, having at least some consumers get a taste of content they may not otherwise see.

One CNET reviewer says simply: “Just hook it to my veins!” In other words, give the TV addict more juice.

But what of the side effects in a year, after viewing the original at 1.5 times the speed, zipping through multiple seasons of “This Is Us,” “Breaking Bad” or “Mr. Robot”? Will one feel exhilarated -- or in need of a yoga retreat?

John Landgraf, chairman of FX Networks, has long worried about how the growing number of premium TV series will get consumed, since consumers only have a limited time to watch.

FX Networks’ research says some 500 original TV shows are now out and about from new and legacy platforms -- broadcast networks, cable networks (ad-supported or non-ad supported), non-ad supported SVOD platforms, as well AVOD services (ad-supported video on demand). There's no way anyone can consume a significant part of this list.

Obviously, if this speed tool gets traction and use from Netflix users, it will be an option -- perhaps not all that popular.

Imagine a decade or two ago if a traditional cable or TV network were looking to get more shelf-space for its programming. VCR tapes being mailed to viewers, perhaps? (I think a company called Netflix started that way.)

Now, with big digital and cloud storage available, access to content seems limitless. But TV viewers attention, and cognitive ability in relation to time spent consuming content, has a specific limit.


Whew, that’s saved seconds!

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