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News Netflix’s ‘Shuffle Play’ feature will roll out to all users worldwide this year

Jethalal

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Netflix’s ‘Shuffle Play’ feature will roll out to all users worldwide this year | TechCrunch

Netflix is always in search of a better way to instantly connect users to something to watch, instead of having them waste time unsuccessfully scrolling through all the available programming options. Now, the company says a recent test focused on solving this problem, Shuffle Play, has proven popular enough to roll out to all users worldwide.

In the streamer’s Q4 2020 earnings, announced today, Netflix noted the product development only briefly. It referred broadly to a test of a new feature that “gives members the ability to choose to instantly watch a title chosen just for them versus browse.” It also noted the feature would reach all users worldwide sometime in the first half of 2021.

Netflix confirmed to TechCrunch the test in question is Shuffle Play, which we first covered back in August 2020. However, the company tells us the actual name of the feature is something that’s still being tested.

Shuffle Play puts a big button right on the Netflix home screen, beneath your profile icon. When clicked, Netflix randomly plays content its personalization algorithms think you’ll like. This could include a movie you’re currently watching, something you’ve saved to your watch list or a title that’s similar to something you’ve already watched, for example.

A variation has also been spotted in the TV app’s sidebar navigation. More recently, we’ve found this sidebar option relabeled as “Shuffle Play,” instead of “Play Something” as before.

In addition, as you start scrolling down through the Netflix home screen on the TV, you’ll eventually come across a screen that explains what the option is for and points to the new button with a red arrow.

“Not sure what to watch?” this page asks, before explaining how Shuffle Play works.


The button has already appeared on some users’ Netflix app for TV devices, due to the ongoing tests.

In its letter to shareholders, Netflix said the user response to Shuffle Play has been positive — which is funny because the original responses to the feature on social media were decidedly mixed. However, the company doesn’t make its decisions based on what a handful of tweets once said, but rather in how Netflix members actually used the product, of course.

Netflix also tells us the feature is still being tested only on TV devices, not other platforms like web or mobile. It declined to say how many users or what percentage had been opted into the test to date.

Shuffle Play is the latest in a long series of tests where Netflix has tried to make it easier to find something to watch right away.

In 2019, for example, Netflix tried out a shuffle mode that let you click on a popular show to start playing a random episode. This may have worked well when users wanted to play a random episode of their default pick, like the “The Office” or “Friends,” but Netflix has lost both.

It has also promoted its shows on the login screen and as screensavers, and notoriously autoplayed previews until last year, when it finally caved in to user demand for a way to turn this off.


Overall, the goal is to make the Netflix experience closer to that of traditional TV, where you could switch the set on and content just started playing.

Netflix says Shuffle Play will roll out globally in the first half of 2021, but didn’t share more specifics.

Do you all think this is a great addition? Was anyone of you lucky enough to test this out?
 

Cyberpunkd

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Dec 16, 2020
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The ultimate engagement tool - let us use fancy algorithms to keep you glued to the screen for longer. Good for Netflix, bad for humanity. I can imagine there will be people having this going in the background 24/7. No thanks.
 

Soodanim

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Feb 24, 2012
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I spend most of my non-viewing Netflix time trying to decide what to watch that is X minutes long, so give me a filter by episode time and I might use it more. No one wants to watch half an episode if they can help it
 
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AV

We ain't outta here in ten minutes, we won't need no rocket to fly through space
May 31, 2018
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It's one way for them to get people to watch Netflix originals, I guess. You can guarantee that's almost exclusively what you'll be given on a shuffle list.
 
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Sidney Prescott

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I would do this with sitcoms, but not fully fledged TV Shows.

I can watch a sitcom episode at any moment and get in to it.
 
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jason10mm

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I want playlists. Not only my own, but ones made by others, like having each season of the DC CW shows intermixed correctly so the big crossover events happen appropriately. Otherwise jumping around between the shows in release order is a huge PITA.

I also want the ability to block stuff, especially with my kids accounts. I should be able to block specific shows or even entire categories if i want.
 
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Sidney Prescott

Unconfirmed Member
I want playlists. Not only my own, but ones made by others, like having each season of the DC CW shows intermixed correctly so the big crossover events happen appropriately. Otherwise jumping around between the shows in release order is a huge PITA.

I also want the ability to block stuff, especially with my kids accounts. I should be able to block specific shows or even entire categories if i want.
This would be great!

Netflix recommendations aren't very good and I always have to use external sites like IMDB and check if they are available to stream. Being able to put playlists from Netflix content would be fantastic.
 

poppabk

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Jan 21, 2008
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Have it, never used it - their algorithm is so hit and miss with what it recommends, I don't trust it to have any chance of just picking one show that I want to watch. Having tried out pluto TV recently, Netflix needs something similar to the channels they have. Like an 80s sitcom channel, a kids cartoon channel, a comedy channel etc.
 
Oct 26, 2018
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Is it totally random? Or you get to pick some filters and parameters and then it randomly chooses?

I like watching action, war, mafia and documentaries.

If I pick shuffle, I can suddenly get Anne of Green Gables?
 

Yoda

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Ehhhhh, for every show I like on Netflix there are like 10 which are just mediocre. Unless their ML team is reallllly solid I doubt this’ll get widely used.
 

FunkMiller

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Ugh. No thanks. My tastes are all over the shop, and I like discovering weird shit. Don’t want algorithms shuffling me down a path.
 
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Sidney Prescott

Unconfirmed Member
it's a worthy experiment, uncertain ramifications

very least the data scraped should assist production
I wish they would bring back the ratings and reviews as well. If you remember in the earlier days of Netflix everything had a star rating and people could post reviews. The thumbs up/down system has never seemed that great for finding things.
 
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Kagey K

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Remember Max (I think that’s what it was called) where it asked you some questions and recommended something based off your answers?

This sounds like that with less engagement or choice.
 

jason10mm

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I wish they would bring back the ratings and reviews as well. If you remember in the earlier days of Netflix everything had a star rating and people could post reviews. The thumbs up/down system has never seemed that great for finding things.
Oh, thats never coming back. The woke/anti-woke brigades will review bomb everything into oblivion, especially given the checklist netflix uses.

Its a shame though, because it is so helpful on amazon and some other services to see quality versus junk.
 

teezzy

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Nah shits for smooth brained boomers

I carefully curate what I wanna watch
 

xrnzaaas

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Dec 9, 2013
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I reckon the feature will become popular eventually. Tons of people watch whatever's on tv instead of picking what they want to see.

And of course it's gonna be good for Netflix, they'll have more people watch their shit original content.
 

ItsGreat

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Jul 17, 2020
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Netflix needs a sync feature for watch parties. I know, synchronise watches will do. But it would sound cool in lockdown times.


It also needs the aeroplane or network TV cuts as a streaming option. Then I could let the kids watch the Goonies without the bad guy hanging himself or the chest o drugs scene.
 
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