Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 20 May 2019

Shuffle mode: Netflix tests feature that offers a more traditional TV viewing experience

You could call it a streaming shuffle, or Netflix roulette

Brit Marling stars in her mind-bending creation 'The OA': a series that you certainly couldn't just pick up from episode 3. 
Brit Marling stars in her mind-bending creation 'The OA': a series that you certainly couldn't just pick up from episode 3. 

Many of you will remember a time when your only option, if you fancied watching TV on the spur of the moment, was turning it on and seeing what was airing.

You may have happened to sit down on the couch halfway through an episode of MacGyver, mid-season, and you'd have to carry on and pick up the plot; hence why the serialised 'one-crime-per-episode' Law & Order style of show was so popular. You could watch any episode and get the gist almost immediately.

Well, Netflix is testing out a new 'shuffle' feature on its Android app for certain shows to try and combat some of the tyranny of choice that the 'choose what you consume' model can create.

The new feature, which is currently only on the Android app, lets you select a 'random' episode of some TV shows. It seems the streamer has only selected shows that suit being watched from any point. These include New Girl, Arrested Development, The Office and Our Planet.

'New Girl' is one of the shows that is now offering the 'shuffle' feature for some Netflix users, meaning you can select for a random episode to pop up for you to watch - perfect for fans who've already seen a show, but just fancy the comfort of a beloved sitcom. Photo: New Girl / Supplied 
'New Girl' is one of the shows that is now offering the 'shuffle' feature for some Netflix user. Photo: New Girl / Supplied

Shows with the shuffle feature have a red symbol on them in the Android app.

A lot of today's TV doesn't lend itself to a random entry point: enter into the world of Stranger Things at season one, episode five, and it's safe to say you'd feel as bewildered as Winona Ryder's Joyce.

This is perhaps why Netflix are only offering the feature on selected shows: for instance, some users will want to come home, open their laptop and just be given a random episode of Friends to watch; you're unlikely to feel the same way about The OA.

Netflix has yet to confirm whether the feature will be rolled out more widely and move beyond the testing phase.

“We are testing the ability for members to play a random episode from different TV series on the Android mobile app. These tests typically vary in length of time and by region, and may not become permanent,” a Netflix spokesperson told TechCrunch.

But it's still worth watching out for 'shuffle' arrows in your Netflix feed in the future if you'd like decision making taken out of your hands sometimes.

Updated: April 21, 2019 01:57 PM

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