I have always been interested in Netflix streaming, but I could not get over not being able to adjust the playback speed. That and the movie selection stinks (out of 159 titles in my queue only 40 are available to be streamed). I still tried streaming for 30 days and really liked some of the original content Netflix had. During that time I did not find any native way to adjust the playback speed in their html5 player. This really stinks as I am used to watching video with Vlc, YouTube, and MythTV all of which allow for playback speed adjustment up to 2x. It is hard to watch anything at lower speeds anymore. After a bit more searching I finally found a way to change the playback speed in Netflix streaming video.
After much searching I found an Google Chrome extension called Video Speed Controller, which allows for the speedup of html5 video streams in the browser. Netflix has an html5 player so this works with Netflix streams. Hooray!! The speedup stream does not have any buffering issues and I've watched many things on with 2x playback without issue. Unfortunately you can't use this anywhere other than the browser. Come on Netflix please add playback speed adjust to all of your players on all platforms!!!
Beware that when speeding up video you will need to make sure your video card can handle the higher frame rates. When I stream a video file from local storage with a local program like Vlc at 2x, it is very smooth, without much jitter or video tearing. When streaming content from Netflix or YouTube or other sites using this browser plugin you are using the browser as the video player, and it might not be as clean of an experience. You might notice some more jitter in the video and some frame tearing on fast moving scenes. This usually happens if your hardware can't keep up rendering the video or if hardware acceleration is not enabled.
My testing for this is being done on Linux with Google Chrome using the accelerated Nvidia Drivers with a GeForce GT 520 a video card from 2011. What I had to do to get rid of the jitter and tearing is turn hardware acceleration on in Chrome. Google seems to be very careful about whether or not they turn on hardware acceleration. They usually don't turn it on unless they know for sure it will work. Mine was not turned on even though I had a video card that supported acceleration and the correct drivers. Chromes detection of this might not be the best or Google did not think the drivers for this were stable enough. What is great is you can turn this on anyways and it works great.
To see if your hardware acceleration is already turned on or not type "chrome://gpu" in your Chrome URL bar. If it's turned off you will likely see lots of red text indicating so. Look for "Video decode" and see if it says "Disabled". If so you will need to turn it on. If it says "Hardware accelerated" then your good and can skip the rest of this paragraph. To turn on the hardware acceleration in the Chrome URL bar type "chrome://flags". The first setting says "Override software rendering list". Click the "Enable" to turn on the override. Then restart Chrome. Go back to "chrome://gpu" and see if it says "Video decode: Hardware accelerated". If so go try to watch a movie again or a YouTube video and it should be much smoother and likely have less tearing. If you don't have less tearing, go into your video driver config and make sure you have Sync to VBlank enabled. Mine is in my Nvidia X server settings manager then under "OpenGL settings"-> Performance. Check the box "Sync to VBlank".
Netflix provides some hidden menus for stats and changing bit rates of your streams. Here are some different ones to try.I tried these using Chrome on Linux. They all worked for me.