Netflix adding new shuffle mode for viewers who can't decide what to watch

The 'Shuffle Play' test is appearing on TVs for some users, following previous tests of 'Play Something' and 'Play Random Episode' buttons

Adam Smith
Wednesday 19 August 2020 10:14 BST

Netflix is testing a new Shuffle button for viewers who find it difficult to decide what to watch.

The company has confirmed that a “Shuffle Play” button will begin appearing on the Netflix user page, underneath their names.

When “Shuffle Play” is selected, Netflix will choose from either a show on a users’ saved list, or something that the user had previously watched before.

Netflix’s algorithm could also choose something that the user has not seen before but the recommendation algorithm believes it they will enjoy.

Users noticed the addition on the Netflix app on their television. It is not the only "shuffle mode" that the company has been adding to its apps.

Netflix had also been testing several methods to add a shuffle setting to its service, including a “Play Something” button that has appeared in some users’ sidebars above its TV Shows and Movies segments, as well as a "Play Random Episode" button.

The Shuffle Play test was rolled out to users worldwide last month, and is only on televisions. Netflix is yet to decide whether to publicly release the feature.

However, the Shuffle Play button on the homepage – which Netflix calls the “profile gate” is the only test still being conducted, the streaming service confirmed.

The idea behind the button, the company said, is to let its users quickly find content tailored to their interests, something the company has struggled to deal with before.

Netflix has been experimenting with its release strategy and has been pushing out a range of shows from different genres, including new film The Duchess and a musical about the life of Princess Diana.

However, it has also been criticised for its algorithm making it harder for new shows to be promoted and cancelling other popular programmes – leaving the streaming service ‘less a vast landscape of choice, and more a graveyard.

Netflix says that it wants using its apps to feel a little more like watching traditional television, with viewers finding something to watch as soon as they log in.

This is not the only new feature Netflix is rolling out to users. The company is also bringing the ability to speed up or slow down shows to Android and iOS devices, following a limited trial of the function in 2019.

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