Your nights of endless scrolling are over. Netflix is looking to combat decision fatigue amid Peak TV with a new shuffle feature, Play Something. It’s a feature that the streaming giant has been testing out since at least year, and one that will bring Netflix the closest to emulating traditional TV channel surfing.
Netflix has launched the Play Something button, a new shuffle feature will automatically suggest and play new film and TV titles to Netflix users based on their viewing history. The Netflix Play Something feature will be available on TV devices worldwide including Amazon Fire and Roku, per Deadline.
Here’s how it works: Netflix users will find the “Play Something” button underneath their name in the profile, in the 10th row on their homepage, or as a tab on the menu. When users press this button, Netflix offers three options: a new series or film, a series or film they’re already watching, or a title from their list or unfinished title they may want to revisit.
It’s only available for the platform’s TV interface for now, but Netflix shared that it will test the Play Something feature on Android devices soon.
This shuffle feature has been long in the works, with the streamer testing out a “Shuffle Play” feature for TV users in August last year. This feature automatically played random titles based on what users had been watching and what they like. And it seems that Netflix has tweaked and expanded on that concept for Play Something.
But Netflix executives have been dreaming about creating some kind of shuffle feature for even longer. According to a Vulture report, Netflix had tried an auto-play shuffle feature as far back as 10 years ago, when its streaming platform was still in its infancy. “Instead of having subscribers start their streaming sessions scrolling through rows and rows of content, [Netflix product engineers] wondered what would happen if a show or movie simply began playing as soon as someone clicked into the app,” Vulture reported. But the feature was a failure among the small slice of subscribers it was tested on, and quietly scrapped.
But Netflix apparently didn’t give up on the idea of a channel surfing-style feature, and started testing out a shuffle feature that would become Play Something.
“It’s trying to take what is one of the best things about linear TV, which is immediate entertainment, but make it even better, because it’s personalized,” Netflix’s product innovation executive Cameron Johnson described to Vulture. In Netflix’s version of changing channels, Play Something allows users to start at the beginning of a title and not somewhere in the middle. It also saves where you were in a binge, and determines suggestions via algorithm. Per Vulture, Play Something is intended to “evolve the Netflix recommendation engine, not replace it.”
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