Netflix Quietly Removes Feature

Netflix is not just removing content but features as well. The "Surprise Me" option, the equivalent of the shuffle button on a stereo, was discontinued. The option was introduced in 2021 and few subscribers used it since most have at least a vague idea of what they want to watch when they launch Netflix.

The feature allowed subscribers to have shows play automatically, based on their previous viewing activity. However, a Netflix spokeswoman told the Wall Street Journal this week that the feature was removed last month because few subscribers were using it. They found that most subscribers know what show, movie, or genre they want to enjoy when they log in. "We will continue to explore other ways to give members more options and ways to explore and discover content they want to watch," the spokeswoman said.

"Surprise Me" was originally introduced in April 2021 as "Play Something." At the time, countries around the world were still encouraging social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, and streaming services sought to cash in on consumers binge-watching TV and movies at home. Netflix thought the option would help cut down on the amount of time consumers spend picking what to watch. They also hoped subscribers might use it if they wanted to have noise on the television while they did other things around their homes.

The removal of the "Surprise Me" feature comes as Netflix tries to solve the password-sharing issue. Netflix plans to start rolling out password-sharing limitations in Canada, New Zealand, Portugal, and Spain on Feb. 8. Last year, subscribers in Chile, Costa Rica, and Peru saw the implementation of an "Add an Extra Member" feature, which charged extra so they could add sub-subscribers to their plans. It's unclear when features like these will reach the U.S., but Netflix saw the outrage already brewing and tried to calm concerns with a statement earlier this month.

"We've always made it easy for people who live together to share their Netflix account with features like profiles and multiple streams. While these have been hugely popular, they've also created confusion about when and how you can share Netflix. Today, over 100 million households are sharing accounts – impacting our ability to invest in great new TV and films," Netflix said last week. "So over the last year, we've been exploring different approaches to address this issue in Latin America, and we're now ready to roll them out more broadly in the coming months, starting today in Canada, New Zealand, Portugal, and Spain. Our focus has been on giving members greater control over who can access their account."