Everyone has been there: staring at the endless lines of tiles on the Netflix home screen, trying to figure out what to watch next. You've finished Bridgerton, you've watched The Queen's Gambit twice, and you're not feeling Cobra Kai right now. So what do you put on? That's where Netflix's latest feature comes in. But what is Netflix's "Shuffle Play," exactly, and how does it work?
Rumors of Shuffle Play coming to all Netflix consumers have been rampant since the streamer rolled out test versions of the feature in August 2020. But with the new year, Netflix has made it official. The feature will be made available to all users before the summer of 2021.
So what is "Shuffle Play"? It sounds like a jarring proposition for those who are used to the shuffle setting on music players. Does one really want the infamous sixth episode of Bridgerton's first season to start randomly playing after watching the first episode of Blown Away?
Thankfully, Netflix's Shuffle Play doesn't work quite like a music player. The powers-that-be behind the streamer are aware most fans are looking to marathon several episodes of a series in a row when they pick something specific. Instead, Shuffle Play is meant for those who don't have anything in particular in mind when they fire up the app.
According to Variety, Netflix COO and chief product officer Greg Peters explained the feature for those looking for the old-school TV experience. You fire up the app and you want something to play without having to browse — except, unlike TV, which plays whatever is on, the Netflix version will play something tailored to your taste.
"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. "That's a great mechanism that's worked quite well for members in that situation."
The feature has been tested in several configurations. For some, there's an option to "Shuffle Play" (or "Play Something") under their icon on the log-in page. For others, it's an option in the sidebar that reads "Not sure what to watch?" Bonus: If you don't like what Netflix serves up, you're greeted with "Play Something Else" as an option to shuffle to a different series or movie.
Netflix's "Shuffle Play" does not have an exact date for its launch, but users should see it arrive on their accounts sometime in the first half of 2021.