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Netflix’s ‘Shuffle Play’ button could fix the service’s biggest problem

Published Aug 19th, 2020 7:25PM EDT
Netflix Shuffle Play
Image: Netflix

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  • Netflix is testing a new “Shuffle Play” button that allows users to start playing suggested content straight from the home screen without searching for content.
  • Netflix has tested other shuffle features in the past, but this is the only one currently being tested.
  • Netflix hasn’t tested the feature long enough to decide if Shuffle Play will be available to the public.

There are few phemomena more relatable — especially during a pandemic that has us all stuck inside, trying to find ways to entertain ourselves — than spending thirty minutes or more scrolling through Netflix looking for something to watch before eventually becoming overwhelmed and giving up. This was a problem before the world turned upside-down, but even with so little else to do, it still plagues many of us (myself included).

In order to solve this universal problem, Netflix has begun testing a new “Shuffle Play” button on the app home screen that does precisely what you would think it does. You click on the button instead of clicking on your profile picture, and Netflix will pick something for you to watch and start streaming it right away.

Speaking with TechCrunch, Netflix said that “the idea behind the feature is to help its members quickly and easily find content that’s tailored to their tastes.” There are a number of ways to tackle this issue, and giving users a big button to press that will sidestep all of the menus and suggestions (while still picking something they should like) is perhaps the most elegant. Other services have taken different paths, such as NBC’s Peacock, which offers live channels that play content throughout the day whether you’re watching or not, more like traditional TV.

As TechCrunch notes, this isn’t the first time Netflix has tested a shuffle feature. In 2019, Netflix gave users access to a row of shows labeled “Play a Random Episode,” and clicking on the show would do exactly that. Of course, sitcoms are the best TV shows to jump in and out of at random, but Friends was removed from the service not long ago and The Office will follow suit next year. It was a rather limited use of the feature, anyway.

Netflix explained that the Shuffle Play button on the home screen is the only one still being tested, and that the test began rolling out to users on the Netflix TV app last month. Netflix hasn’t decided whether or not the feature will eventually be available to the public, but it certainly seems far less controversial than the playback speed settings it introduced a few weeks ago. Netflix is already basically impenetrable with the amount of content the service has produced and acquired, so giving users an option to click a button and just watch what shows up makes sense.

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.