Updated: February 16th, 2020 at 08:52 pm
Netflix now appears to be testing two new features designed to speed up the time it takes to start watching. The two new features are “Watch Now” and “Play Something Else.” It is currently unclear if and when these new features will reach all users on all platforms.
Watch Now appears to be a quick route to watching something as soon as Netflix is launched. Users will have the option of clicking the new “Watch Now” tab in the Netflix main menu. Alternatively, there will also be a Watch Now option listed on the profile page. For example, under each user’s profile, the user can either “Browse” to enter the normal Netflix interface or “Watch Now” to immediately start streaming before actually selecting the profile.
Regardless of which route is chosen, when Watch Now is selected Netflix will either start watching the next episode of a show the user has already watched or a video the service’s algorithm deems appropriate.
Separate to the new Watch Now feature, there’s Play Something Else. This feature is designed to speed up the time it takes to move from something you’re not interested in watching any longer to something you might be interested in.
Unlike Watch Now, Play Something Else only shows to the user once a video is already playing. When the viewer hits the pause button a new “Play Something Else” option will be visible. Selecting this option then shoots the viewer straight into something else. Presumably, another title Netflix’s smart AI has deemed relevant.
Netflix’s take on channel surfing
While both of these features are designed to quicken the time it takes to start streaming, they also appear to be reminiscent of channel surfing. Just like with live TV, Watch Now lets you jump straight into the action as if a movie or show is being broadcast live.
Similarly, if the user finds what they are watching is not interesting enough the Play Something Else feature lets you jump straight to another program. Just like you might if you were hopping between channels.
Of course, as this is all happening through an on-demand service, there’s no real-world channel surfing issues such as watching a show or movie from some random point in the show or movie. In that sense, it’s not just a take on channel surfing, but a modern one.
At present, Netflix is reportedly only testing the features with a handful of users and on limited platforms. Owners of a smart TV, Fire TV or Roku OS device might find they are included in the testing. Those using other platform devices to access Netflix may find they have to wait until the features officially roll out to everyone.