Netflix Rolls Out Content Shuffle Feature, Wants Viewers To Feel More Like They’re Watching Traditional TV

By 08/19/2020
Netflix Rolls Out Content Shuffle Feature, Wants Viewers To Feel More Like They’re Watching Traditional TV

Netflix is testing another change to its content browsing system.

Many users who watch the streaming service through a TV app should now see a Shuffle Play button right when they log in, below the row of account profile icons. Some users, like The Verge reporter Julia Alexander, are seeing an alternate version of the feature called Play Something, which appears not on the profile selection page, but in the navigation bar on the left side of the screen once a user has selected their profile.

According to TechCrunch, both of these options can spin up titles a user has saved to their personal watch later list, episodes of a TV show they’ve already begun watching, something similar to programming they’ve already watched, or something random that Netflix’s algorithm thinks they’ll like.

Netflix confirmed to TechCrunch that this is a current test rolled out to TV viewers. It said the point of the feature is to allow users to quickly surface content in line with their interests. It also hopes to make watching Netflix feel more like watching traditional television; to that end, the Shuffle feature mimics the ancient pre-DVR days of TV, when folks would simply light up their sets and watch whatever was on.

The company did not say whether this feature will roll out to mobile devices and computers, or whether it will be implemented permanently.

Shuffle is the second tweak Netflix has recently made to browsing for TV viewers. Back in February, it finally gave users the option to toggle off its controversial autoplay browsing feature. That function automatically plays–with sound–a trailer for, selected scene from, or the actual beginning of any program a TV viewer hovers over for more than a second, and subscribers had long complained about it.

Around the same time, Netflix tested a feature called Watch Now, which possibly could have been the precursor to Shuffle. It appeared on the profile selection page for a limited number of users, and when pressed, would play the next episode of the show they were currently watching, something from their My List, or something they might be interested in.