The sheer amount of available content on streaming services can, at times, be both a strength and a weakness of the platforms. It’s great to have such a vast number of movies and shows to choose from, but the actual choosing part can prove difficult when there are so many things you want to watch. This can lead you to spend lots of time scrolling when you could just be watching a TV show or movie. 

Netflix understands its viewer’s dilemma and has added a feature that can help cut down on decisions. It’s called Play Something and works almost like a shuffle play feature for shows and movies. We’ll show you the feature and explain how its algorithm works to choose what to play for you.

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    How to Use the Play Something Feature

    The Play Something feature is available when watching Netflix on a TV or an Android device. It’s not available when watching Netflix in other ways, such as on the desktop. For smartphone users, when you open the Netflix app, you’ll notice a new pill-shaped button at the bottom right. It’ll say “Play Something” or “Surprise Me” or just show two twisty arrows.

    To use the Play Something feature on other supported devices like TVs, follow these steps:

    1. Open the Netflix app.
    1. On the profile selection screen, hover over your profile name. 
    1. Underneath it, you’ll see the Play My Channel button. Select this to have Netflix play a suggested show or movie. 
    1. You can also find Play Something in the Netflix navigation menu or in a row between shows on the Netflix homepage. 
    1. You can select the Play Something Else button after getting a show/movie to get a new one. This time, it will include shows you haven’t finished from your watch list or are on the My List page. 
    1. You can exit Play Something by opening the Netflix player and selecting Exit, or the back arrow on Android. 

    If you can’t find the Play Something feature, there could be a few reasons for this. First, if you’re a new Netflix member, you’ll only be able to see the feature after a month of using the service. 

    Also, Play Something isn’t supported on Apple TV, desktop, or iPhone devices. 

    How Does Play Something Work?

    Netflix does an excellent job of tracking people’s watching habits to determine what shows and movies they are most likely to want to watch. This information is integrated into the Netflix algorithm for the Play Something feature to help you pick something to watch right away, instead of wasting time deciding. 

    When you use the feature, Netflix considers your past viewing habits and selects recommended shows or movies it believes are similar to things you’ve watched before. For this reason, it’s best to use the Play Something feature on a profile that only you watch programs on, or else your recommendations won’t be as tailored to you specifically. 

    This is also why new Netflix users can’t use the Play Something feature. It takes a while for Netflix to build knowledge of your viewing habits, and for the best selections that you’re most likely to want to watch, the service wants to have a solid month of your viewing history. 

    When Was Play Something Introduced?

    The Play Something feature hasn’t always been on Netflix. It debuted on the platform in April of 2021 for every Netflix member. Before that, it was just a test feature only available to some users. 

    Since its release for TV and Android users, it is slowly being rolled out to more platforms. Eventually, you may be able to use the Play Something feature on every device supporting Netflix, such as iOS and Apple TV. Until then, you can only use it on select devices. 

    The release of Play Something followed the introduction of a very similar new feature– Downloads For You. This function automatically downloads shows and movies Netflix believes you’ll enjoy. These features are all to keep viewers on the app instead of venturing off into the tens of hundreds of other streaming services. 

    Netflix is trying to compete for people’s attention with social media, such as YouTube and TikTok. In March 2021, they introduced the Fast Laughs feature, which imitates TikTok’s short and snappy videos by previewing scenes from Netflix shows to tempt viewers into watching full-length episodes.  

    Spend Less Time Choosing What to Watch

    With Play Something, you can immensely reduce the time-consuming process of selecting a show or movie. Since your past viewing habits are being used to present new entertainment, you’ll likely find something you enjoy. Also, you can play up to 75 different shows using Play Something, so you are sure to discover something new to enjoy and binge-watch. 

    Do you think Netflix’s Play Something feature is useful? Let us know in the comments below.