Netflix is planning to roll out its Shuffle Play feature all over the world this year. The company told investors the same during a recent earnings call for the fourth quarter of 2020. “We’ve been testing a new feature that gives members the ability to choose to instantly watch a title chosen just for them versus browse. The response has been positive and we plan to roll it out globally in the first half of 2021,” the streaming giant said during the call. While shuffle is a common feature on music streaming services, Netflix is likely the first video platform to incorporate it like this.
According to Netflix, the feature will make it easier to find content to watch. The shuffle play button will appear under the profile pictures that appear when you first login to Netflix. Clicking the button will directly launch a piece of content that the platform thinks the user should watch. While the company says the feature is better than browsing for content, it’s arguable whether Netflix allowed users to browse anyway.
Netflix Shuffle will soon decide what to watch
The company’s lists are usually determined through its recommendation algorithms. Users have even complained that they cannot even see the full list of content that they save. Instead, the company has made a business out of serving content to users tailored to their choices. Netflix hasn’t clarified how shuffle play will be affected by its marketing efforts. At the moment, the company does promote specific pieces of content that it has interests in. Will shuffle play be biased towards such content?
The pandemic has been a good time for the streaming giant, which increased its overall engagement times and subscribers as people sat at home. The company said it added 8.5 million new paid subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2020 and has passed 200 million subscribers worldwide. In fact, the company is so confident that it has said it won’t need to “raise external financing” for day-to-day operations anymore.
This is an important move, as Netflix has raised $16 billion in debt over the past decade or so. Most of its original content has been produced using borrowed money, which means that though Netflix has gained subscribers, it has also increased its debt. Stopping external financing will be an important step in making Netflix a profitable company in the long run.