We have all been in the situation where deciding what to watch next from Netflix’s seemingly endless catalogue just seems impossible. To solve this problem, Netflix has been testing ‘Shuffle Play’ to automatically play titles that it thinks you will like, and it looks like the feature has been quite successful.
That’s why, during its Q4 earnings calls today, Netflix announced that it will broadly test a new feature that “gives members the ability to choose to instantly watch a title chosen just for them versus browse.” The company said that the feature will be available to its users globally within the first half of 2021, but not revealing what the feature is.
However, later on it did confirm to TechCrunch that the feature in mention is in fact the Shuffle Play option. It also said that the launch name of Shuffle Play has not been decided yet, which means that it might be called something else by the time users around the globe receive it.
Shuffle play will take into consideration your viewing history and your “my list” to automatically play titles that it thinks you will like. For instance, it could play a random episode from a TV series that you are currently watching or a movie from a genre that you usually like. It might also be something you have saved to your watch list. Thus, the algorithm behind shuffle play will be quite social media like in nature.
The shuffle play button has already appeared on some users’ Netflix app for TV devices, due to the ongoing tests. The feature is still being tested only on TV devices, and not other platforms like web or mobile. “We run these tests in different countries and for different periods of time – and only make them broadly available if people find them useful,” a Netflix spokesperson told The Verge.
While users have the incentive to find some buried treasure by using this feature, Netflix will gain more viewing time. The company said that “the idea is to help viewers quickly and easily find content that’s tailored to their tastes.’ The goal is to make the Netflix experience closer to that of traditional TV, where you could switch the set on, and content just starts playing.