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Hear me out: This ‘random episode’ feature Netflix is testing could be a good idea

Published Apr 19th, 2019 10:41AM EDT

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You don’t have to be a power user of Netflix to know that as time goes by, there’s a massive and ever-changing inventory of content on the service that it’s near-impossible to keep track of — with dozens and dozens of Netflix original TV shows and movies, not to mention the pile of third-party content the streamer licenses. Then there’s the constant content churn from one month to the next, the ebb and flow of shows and movies getting taken away and new titles taking their place. For a normal user, someone who doesn’t have time to keep up with all the changes and who’s maybe lucky to squeeze in an episode or two of a show on Netflix in-between getting home from work and hitting the sack, good luck with keeping up with the changes.

That’s why, on first blush, word that Netflix is apparently testing a “random episode” feature could actually be a useful idea, mostly for the serendipity of discovering things you didn’t know were there.

Word of this test comes via Android Police, which was alerted by a tipster who found the experimental feature in the Android version of the app. The feature seems to be visible in the playback controls when you’re actually in an episode of a show.

What’s unclear is when that feature would materialize. Android Police included this screenshot showing the feature visible in the playback controls while in an actual TV episode, which could mean the feature would serve up a random episode of something from within the same series.

Speaking for myself, I’ve binged The Office more times than I care to admit on Netflix, and in that case I wouldn’t actually mind being randomly steered to an episode if I’m in a certain mood. Sometimes I’d love to re-watch The Office, but since the show stretches over nine seasons it’s not always easy to pick a spot to jump back in.

Additionally, a random episode feature could also be useful for just… serving you up something from a completely random TV series altogether. Letting you Netflix and chill, Pandora-style. Where you just let the service show you whatever it wants. Which actually doesn’t sound all that dissimilar from mindlessly flipping the channel on TV.

At any rate, it’s not clear the extent to which this is being tested at the moment or if this feature will ever become part of the user experience for Netflix’s broader customer base. Which means, at least for now, you’ll have to keep managing your Netflix binges the old-fashioned way.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.