Why I Love Netflix's Play Something

Move over, cable

Key Takeaways

  • Netflix has a new feature that randomizes what you watch based on your previous viewing interests. 
  • The Play Something feature refers you to a new TV series or movie to watch, as well as an unfinished series or something on your watch list. 
  • For cable-lovers like me, this feature is the perfect addition to Netflix.
A person sitting in front a TV that displays the Netflix logo.

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Netflix’s new Play Something feature is the streaming service’s solution to decision-making fatigue. 

I am someone who primarily uses cable over streaming services because I hate deciding what to watch. I like how cable shows me what is available to watch, and I can pick from that—it’s less of a commitment from me. So, I was excited to hear that Netflix came out with a "shuffle" feature, so subscribers don’t have the daunting task of deciding what to watch—Netflix chooses for you. 

After trying it out, I could see the Play Something feature making me choose Netflix over cable more often. 

"I think the Play Something Feature will make me opt for Netflix over cable in certain situations, especially on days when there truly is nothing on TV."

Less Decision-Making 

Netflix last week announced the new feature, which randomizes a TV series or film based on what you have watched in the past. 

Hulu and Amazon Prime Video both have a shuffle episode option for randomly choosing an episode of a series instead of watching episodes in order, but Netflix’s Play Something is the first of its kind in the streaming world. 

I subscribe to all the major streaming services, but to be honest, I only really use them when I hear of a new series and already know what I want to watch going in. I hate scrolling titles and being overwhelmed with all the options.

I like watching cable TV because you have a limited amount to choose from based on what is currently on and what you’re interested in. It’s easier to decide what to watch because "well, this is the only thing on right now." 

So, over the weekend, I traded my cable-watching habits in favor of Netflix to see if this new feature could cater to someone like me. 

The feature is in the main menu bar with a "shuffle" icon next to it. Once I clicked it, I was met with the first episode of Arrested Development, a show I have already seen, but Netflix doesn’t know that because I now use my fiancé's account.

Someone pointing a remote at a television on the wall, with a cat in the background.

Nico De Pasquale Photography / Getty Images

Wanting to see something else, I clicked "Play Something Else" and got Community, which is a show I’ve actually been wanting to watch.

When choosing the "Play Something Else" option, Netflix might refer you to a series or film you’re already watching, a series or film on your watch list, or an unfinished series or film you may want to revisit.

Besides Community, Netflix suggested a game show option, a cartoon series, a true-crime series, and an outdoor survival series. 

Is It Worth It? 

Overall, I loved being able to sit back and let Netflix decide what I should watch on my Friday night. But there were a couple of things I think the feature could improve on. 

For one, Netflix says that it will randomize both TV shows and movies, but during my "channel changing," no movies popped up as options for me. Especially if you specifically want a movie over a TV show for a weekend movie night, that could be a significant letdown. 

Also, if you share your account with someone else, you might not always like what the feature suggests to you. In my case, Netflix suggested I watch the latest season of Trailer Park Boys, which is my fiancé's taste, and not so much mine. 

"I hate scrolling titles and being overwhelmed with all the options."

However, the feature makes it so much easier to browse shows than spending a full half-hour deciding what you want to watch. It's set up the same way as flipping through channels, and pausing to get a feel for what is on and if it is worth watching. 

And, of course, Netflix's feature comes with benefitted perks over cable, since there are no commercials, and you can find a new favorite TV show to watch. (I'll be watching Community for the rest of the week, thanks to Netflix's recommendation.) 

I think the Play Something Feature will make me opt for Netflix over cable in certain situations, especially on days when there truly is nothing on TV.

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