The world of streaming has practically done away with the serendipitous moment of flicking channels to find that one episode or movie that you would love to see. Recently, Netflix has announced that it is bringing something akin to channel surfing to its streaming service.
The new feature will randomly play an episode of a show that may appeal to the viewer. This has the potential to expose would be viewers to shows that they have generally missed but may find appealing, making for a new form of syndication.
The current feature is only available to some users as Netflix experiments to gauge user response. Those lucky enough to have the feature will also have the option to “play a popular episode” which is a novel way of exposing users to the best of what a series has to offer.
The feature appears to have a group of go-to series for randomized viewing. A callback from the channel surfing days of old where a favorite show was always playing somewhere on some channel. The current go-to shows for Netflix are shows like “The Office, “New Girl, “Our Planet,”, “Friends” and “Arrested Development.” Friends is an obvious choice when it comes to watching a random classic episode.
It is fair to say that the feature will begin basing the randomized selection on an algorithm that leads viewers toward certain selections. Netflix is known for using an algorithm that recommends viewing material to users called pragmatic chaos. The algorithm was created by a team led by AT&T research engineers who vied for Netflix’s $1 million prizes that went to anyone that could improve the streaming companies recommendation by 10 percent or more. It will be interesting to see how this new randomized feature from Netflix will be able to meet the viewing needs that users did not even know they had.