Netflix testing 'random episode' function to help with what to watch

Netflix is reportedly experimenting with a feature that will serve up a random episode to viewers who don't care what they watch next.

The shuffle feature is being tested on the service's Android app, according to popular blog Android Police, which has posted screenshots of the two ways the option is being used.

Firstly, Netflix users can 'play a popular episode' of a TV show by pushing a button on the app's home screen; secondly, there's a 'random episode' button in the playback controls that pop up once an episode from that series is being watched.

"Sometimes, when you come home from work or a day out, you just want to plop down on the couch and turn on the TV. If you're in the middle of a series or YouTube happens to recommend something decent, you're fine," writes Android Police.

"Other times, however, selecting a show to watch is a pain. Luckily, Netflix appears to be working on a solution for that."

Many TV shows have a continuous narrative structure where watching a random episode would harm the viewing experience.

However, being dropped into a random episode may closer mimic a more traditional TV-watching experience, when people didn't watch every single episode of a series sequentially and when reruns were hugely popular.

"We are testing the ability for members to play a random episode from different TV series on the Android mobile app," Gizmodo reports it was told by Netflix.

"These tests typically vary in length of time and by region, and may not become permanent."

If the random episode function proves popular in Netflix's tests, it may be rolled out to other platforms. If not, users may have to continue choosing what they want to watch themselves.