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Can't decide on The Witcher or Stranger Things? Netflix testing 'shuffle' button so you don't have to

By Jacob Oller

Streaming can present fans with an overwhelming amount of choice. Analysis paralysis is a very real problem, leaving many would-be watchers stunned without the ability to make a selection. The Witcher? Or Stranger ThingsUmbrella Academy? Or maybe Avatar: The Last Airbender? Or wait, Locke & Key looks pretty good. What about Space Force?

Too much of a good thing can stop even the biggest geek in their tracks. So Netflix is testing out a new solution to those that don't want to have to choose: a shuffle button.

Netflix confirmed to CNN that the company is testing out the idea, which — like the shuffle button for music services — randomly pick something in the service's catalog, be it TV show or movie, to play. The company has been tweaking its interface over the past few years (autoplaying trailers, adding rows, customizing profiles) and now, with a large boost in viewership thanks to the pandemic keeping everyone on their butts and inside, it's the perfect time to test out a feature for those who may have already watched everything they'd planned to on the service. Or maybe people are just bored — shuffle is here to solve many problems.

The button would live under the user's profile on the home screen and, thankfully, won't be random for all of Netflix's offerings. The service includes plenty of content that's aimed just at kids, for example, or is in a language a user might not speak. The shuffle button will take the user's viewing activity into account when shuffling — possibly drawing from the same algorithm that helps build out its recommendations on its home page.

"We're always looking for better ways to connect members with shows and films that they will love," a Netflix spokesperson told CNN. "We run these tests in different countries and for different periods of time — and only make them broadly available if people find them useful."

Netflix has prided itself on its automated selections and trust in the numbers — if an original isn't renewed, that's because the algorithm doesn't lie. Now this semi-random shuffle may be the next evolution in the auto-curation process for the service — simply because there's so much available that consumers can easily get lost, discouraged, or otherwise bored when picking. 

Would you crash on the couch and shuffle through a binge for a few hours?