Netflix has launched a worldwide test of “Shuffle Play,” a feature for indecisive subscribers that starts streaming a random title based on their viewing history or playlists.
The idea, of course, is to provide yet another way to encourage Netflix users to watch more content on the service — even if they don’t know what, exactly, they want to watch — and potentially get hooked on a new TV show or movie. Currently, “Shuffle Play” is being tested only on connected-TV devices.
“The purpose of the test is to make it easier for members to find something to watch,” a Netflix spokesperson said. The company plans to use the findings from the test to eventually roll out a “shuffle” feature permanently on Netflix: “The hope is to absolutely productize something,” the rep said.
The titles served up by Netflix when you hit “Shuffle Play” will be either shows or movies similar to ones you’ve watched previously; titles in genres you’ve viewed; or content you have saved in the “My List” section.
Available worldwide to a portion of Netflix’s user base, the “Shuffle Play” button shows up in one of three places (or all three): underneath the profile row in the startup screen; in the “billboard” area on the home screen of a user’s profile; or on the TV menu sidebar.
Netflix first tested a similar feature in 2019 with a random-episode button on its Android app, which was available for select TV shows. The company then began a second round of testing in July 2020 globally with “Shuffle Play.”
Netflix’s newest shuffle test was first reported by TechCrunch, which spotted several user posts on social media about the feature, including this one:
Interesting new feature @netflix … but what kind of insane person just says, “yolo, let’s spin the Netflix wheel of fortune” pic.twitter.com/6WDJrmd7pG
— Turner Levison (@TurnerLevison) August 18, 2020
“Shuffle Play” is one of multiple content-discovery features that Netflix has introduced to spur more viewing, as TechCrunch noted.
One of those has been Netflix’s autoplay of previews when you’re browsing the menu — which the streamer finally conceded was pretty irritating to many people. This past February, it added the ability for viewers to disable autoplay of previews. “Some people find this feature helpful. Others not so much,” Netflix said on Twitter in announcing the change.