Figuring out what to watch given the thousands of options at our disposal is a nightly dilemma for many people. Netflix has long been trying to solve that problem by constantly fine tuning its algorithms. It even used to have a fun bot that would make suggestions based on your mood and interests. Now, you can simply let Netflix take the reins.
A feature called Play Something is rolling out on TV devices, with support for mobile coming soon. Netflix has been running public tests of the tool (which was previously known as Shuffle Play) since last year.
When you open the Netflix app, you’ll see a Play Something button under your profile picture. You'll also find it on the tenth row on the homepage (perhaps for when you get fed up of scrolling through the library) or on the navigation menu on the left.
Click the button, and Netflix will start playing a selection it reckons you’ll stick with. It could be something new, a title you've already been watching, one from your list or a show or movie you started a while back and never finished.
You’ll be able to skip to another pick with the Play Something Else option if the one Netflix suggests doesn’t hit the mark. You can always exit the feature and head over to the regular menu as well. Meanwhile, Play Something has full text-to-speech support for those who use screen readers.
The feature had a decent success rate when I tried it. It first suggested the Formula 1: Drive to Survive docuseries (no, thanks), before firing up three bangers in a row: Parks and Recreation, Community and Schitt's Creek. It also suggested the new series Shadow and Bone, which I plan to check out at some point.
Netflix’s aim with Play Something is to get you watching something on the platform as soon as possible. The faster it can do that, the less time you’ll spend scrolling through the catalog, perhaps wondering why you’re keeping your subscription in the first place.