Netflix Tests New TV-Like Feature Without Browsing App

Netflix is testing a new playback feature that turns the streaming service called "Watch Now," which allows users to start watching something before browsing for something new. It's akin to turning the television on and watching whatever random content comes up first. However, the "random" content is really based on your viewing habits and what is in your watch list.

When users start the Netflix app, usually they are asked to select a profile. The "Watch Now" button will appear under a profile photo. If a user selects that button, content immediately begins streaming without the user having to pick through the catalog. According to Variety, those who do not have individual profiles can find the "Watch Now" button in the app's sidebar.

The priority of "Watch Now" is the next episode of a show the user is currently watching. The mix of content includes shows and movies on a watchlist, and titles based on Netflix's algorithms. Viewers will also see a statement explaining why the content is showing up in the "Watch Now" rotation.

"Watch Now" also includes a "Play Something Else" button if the user would prefer not watching the content that comes up.

The "Watch Now" experiment will run for one to two months for only a small percentage of users worldwide, reports Variety. It is limited to the Netflix app on Roku, Fire TV and other television streaming devices. It is not being tested with mobile apps yet.

This new feature comes as streamers are looking to make the experience more streamlined for viewers who just want to sit and watch something without spending time cycling through catalogs. The "Watch Now" feature will help make Netflix feel a little more like traditional television, where someone puts on a channel because they already know they like its content and continue to watch it for more than just one show.

Netflix is known for testing new features with a small group of subscribers. For example, back in October, the service began testing a speed feature that would allow users to watch shows and movies at half-speed or up to double-speed. That feature was controversial the moment it was announced, but Netflix assured viewers it was just a test.

"We’re always experimenting with new ways to help members use Netflix," a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement last month. "This test makes it possible to vary the speed at which people watch shows on their mobiles. As with any test, it may not become a permanent feature on Netflix."

Last year, Netflix tested a "Watch That Scene Again" feature that would allow users to instantly re-watch a scene from a movie or show they loved. This was also controversial, and ultimately never became a widely available feature.

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"We're trying out a feature which gives Netflix members the ability to rewatch favorite scenes and memorable moments with the click of a button," a Netflix spokesperson said last year. "Right now we're just looking to learn from it and may or may not roll it out more broadly in the future."

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