Netflix Tests ‘Shuffle Play’ Button: Cause for Concern for Parents?

Photo by Molly Sivaram via Unsplash

Netflix Tests ‘Shuffle Play’ Button: Cause for Concern for Parents? 

By Cooper Dowd, Staff Writer

Netflix recently launched a worldwide test and incorporated a “Shuffle Play” feature that offers subscribers the option to watch random recommended shows based on their previously viewed content. 

 Without a doubt, the new feature aims to encourage Netflix’s 182 million subscribers to watch more content. The change would provide an entertainment experience more closely resembling live television. The idea is that the “Shuffle Play” option would provide an indecisive user or someone who does not know what they want to watch with a reason not only to turn on Netflix, but to keep it streaming.

“The purpose of the test is to make it easier for members to find something to watch,” a Netflix spokesperson said. “The hope is to absolutely productize something.”

Their eventual goal, according to Variety, is to add a permanent shuffle feature.  

The test feature’s button is in one of three places: underneath the profile row on the startup screen, in the “billboard” area on the home screen of a user’s profile, or on the TV menu sidebar.

This is not Netflix’s first attempt to add this type of feature. In 2019, the company added a button that allowed Android users to watch random episodes from select series. In July, they tested something similar on a broader audience. Previously, Netflix added the autoplay function for previews while users browsed the menu. However, the company changed this to an optional feature in February, conceding in a Twitter announcement that it was “not helpful” for some.

Ultimately, Netflix wants both viewers and viewing hours to rise. The “Shuffle Play” test is one way that Netflix tries to encourage users to branch out and discover new content. But could this pose a danger for parents attempting to instill media discernment in their children and family?

MOVIEGUIDE® reported that nearly 60% of Netflix Original shows have mature content. With more and more Netflix Originals set to populate the streaming service, the majority of Netflix’s content contains extreme sexual content, violence, and other immoral content.

Although the titles that appear while using “Shuffle Play” will be based upon movies and shows previously watched, the vast amount of content and increasing rate of mature content available on the platform could be a reason to take extra caution when using the shuffle button.  

The permanent installation of a new content-discovery option sounds like a good idea from a business standpoint. Netflix has singlehandedly skyrocketed streaming platforms to a level of viewership equal to, if not higher than, most cable and TV networks. However, with Disney+ already ahead of Netflix in subscriber count and claiming a more family-friendly list of movies and shows, the decision for “Shuffle Play” might provide one more reason for family-friendly audiences to check out of Netflix’s content and look elsewhere. 

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