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Netflix to launch ‘Shuffle Play’ feature in the coming months

The feature lets subscribers relinquish control of what to watch to Netflix’s algorithms

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Netflix is launching a new “Shuffle Play” feature in the first half of 2021, Variety reports. The new feature lets users allow Netflix to serve up randomized content based on subscribers’ viewing history. 

The company said it’s been testing the feature since last summer. In its fourth quarter earnings report, Netflix COO and chief product officer Greg Peters said the shuffle option is geared toward consumers who turn on the service “and they’re not really sure what they want to watch.” 

“It’s really working for us where our members can basically indicate to us that they just want to skip browsing entirely, click one button and we’ll pick a title for them just to instantly play,” Peters said during the company’s Q4 investor interview Tuesday. “And that’s a great mechanism that’s worked quite well for members in that situation.”

Selection based on viewing history

With Netflix’s pool of content growing deeper each year, the company said it saw an opportunity to alleviate feelings of overwhelm for users. The company has previously attempted to make it easier to find content to watch by adding a “New & Popular” tab. Added last year, the tab shows users a selection of new, popular, and upcoming content. 

Netflix’s new shuffle tool will show users shows or movies similar to the ones they have watched previously. 

“Titles served up by Netflix when you hit the ‘Play Something’/’Shuffle Play’ button will be either shows or movies similar to ones you’ve watched previously; titles in genres you’ve viewed; or content you have saved in the ‘My List’ section,” Peters explained. “For example, when I recently clicked “Play Something,” Netflix started streaming ‘The Crown’ Season 1 (explaining that it was a drama similar to “The Queen’s Gambit,” which I binge-watched last month).” 

Netflix users will be given the option of clicking a “play something else” button if the content selected for them doesn’t sound appealing. 

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