Netflix Starts Testing Random Episode Button

Janko Roettgers

Netflix is testing a button to play random episodes of select TV shows, the company confirmed Friday morning. “We are testing the ability for members to play a random episode from different TV series on the Android mobile app,” a Netflix spokesperson told Variety. “These tests typically vary in length of time and by region, and may not become permanent.”

Some of the shows the button is being tested on include “The Office,” “Our Planet,” “Arrested Development,” and “New Girl,” according to Android Police, which first reported on the test this week. Users that are part of the test get to see a button to play a random episode within the Netflix video player, and the app is apparently also offering users the ability to “play a popular episode” right from the main menu.

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Netflix vice president of product Todd Yellin suggested that the company was going to test different approaches towards playing individual episodes of some shows during a recent press event in Los Angeles. “How about anthologies? How about something like ‘Chef’s Table’?” Yellin told journalists at the event last month. “You don’t have to watch it in the order that we tell you to.”

The video service regularly tests new features with a subset of its audience, and then compares the results to metrics from members without access to the new feature. The company runs numerous such tests at any given time, and only ever implements a small sub-section of features tested this way.

Earlier this week, Netflix revealed in its earnings report that it will also soon test Top 10 lists with a subsection of its audience. Those lists will initially just be available to some members in the U.K., but Netflix chief product officer Greg Peters suggested that the company had high expectations for those kinds of lists, saying: “We are quite bullish on that, and we’ll see how it does.”

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