Netflix Is Testing A Feature That Will Help Stop Endless Browsing

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(Image credit: Netflix)

More and more consumers are cutting the cord from their traditional cable subscriptions in favor of streaming services like Netflix, but now Netflix is testing a feature that could turn the streaming experience into something a lot more like cable. That's not to say that Netflix is changing the way it offers its streaming video, but rather that subscribers could have a new way to cut down on browsing time and get right into watching. Fittingly, the feature is called "Watch Now."

"Watch Now" enable users to start streaming right away and skip the browsing stage of watching. With this feature, the next episode of series already being watched, something from a list created by the viewer, or even something chosen by another one of those handy Netflix algorithms (that already have the streamer knowing subscribers better than we know ourselves) will begin to play right away. If the episode isn't just the next in a show already being watched, viewers will receive an explanation for why an episode of a new series has popped up.

If this sounds like something that would get in the way of your Netflix habits, there's no need to worry that this is going to be an automatic feature moving forward. The "Watch Now" feature currently being tested pops up as a button on the profile selection page when the Netflix app on a smart TV or streaming device is launched, so it doesn't start automatically.

Alternately, the button can be found in the sidebar of the app. "Watch Now" doesn't seem to be available as a feature even for testing yet for viewing via internet browser. Variety reports Netflix is also testing a "Play Something Else" button to allow users to explore some other recommendations without defaulting to browsing again.

Considering the vast number of titles currently available on Netflix, anything to cut down on potentially fruitless browsing could be a very good thing. With "Watch Now" and "Play Something Else" in the testing stages, "Play Something Else" apparently only displays for viewers who began with "Watch Now." Both of these features seem optimized for streamers who subscribe to Netflix primarily for TV, which isn't a huge surprise given trends in recent years.

"Watch Now" strikes me as the Netflix version of putting a music playlist on shuffle, with "Play Something Else" as the equivalent of skipping to the next song. This would just be a playlist with a whole lot more options than I currently have in my iTunes. With "Watch Now" currently in the testing stage, it's not confirmed what the feature will or will not look like if and when it launches permanently. For those of us who generally watch Netflix via our laptop or another method that doesn't offer "Watch Now" at all, the Netflix experience might not change a whole lot moving forward.

That said, the streaming wars are heating up with more services launching and existing services getting bigger and bolder. Netflix may need to change to keep ahead of the game, especially with other services costing Netflix some of its most popular titles.

There are still some solid Netflix options to debut before the end of 2019, including The Witcher as Netflix's first big fantasy saga, and the 2020 Netflix premiere schedule is stacked with some exciting new series as well as returning series. In fact, considering a recent development out of the Arrow-verse, Netflix fans of Lucifer have more to be excited about in 2020 than ever!

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).