Netflix is finally rolling out a “shuffle” feature that means users won’t have to browse for shows to watch at all.
Instead, they will be able to press a button – for now known as “Play Something”, or “Shuffle Play”, but likely to be renamed – which will pull up a show the streaming service thinks they will like.
The feature is not a true shuffle, instead relying on the viewing history to choose something hopefully fitting, and users will receive an explanation of why the show that is showing has been picked. They may be told that a certain new show is similar to one they watched and enjoyed last week, for instance.
And they will be given the option to skip onto another suggestion if the algorithm does not choose well enough on their behalf.
The feature has been in testing for some time among users, many of whom have reported seeing it appear on their screens. But Netflix confirmed in its results call that the test had gone well and was on its way to everyone in the first half of this year.
The feature is being rolled out because so many people come to the service and not sure what they want to watch, Netflix said.
“It’s really working for us where our members can basically indicate to us that they just want to skip browsing entirely, click one button and we’ll pick a title for them just to instantly play,” the company’s chief operating and product officer Greg Peters said during an investor call. “And that’s a great mechanism that’s worked quite well for members in that situation.”
Reed Hastings, the company’s co-chief executive officer, joked that the feature might be named “I’m Feeling Lucky”, in reference to the button on Google that takes users straight to the first search result without having to pick through a page full of options.
“We’re going to come up with something better than that, so stand by for this,” Mr Peters said in response. “You’ll see it when it rolls out.”
The feature has been rumoured in some form since 2019, when a version of it began to appear in its Android app. It then rolled out more broadly in summer last year, under the name “shuffle play”.