YouTube’s “Play Something” Feature: Transforming Content Discovery

  • YouTube's "Play Something" Feature: YouTube is testing a "Play Something" button, emulating Netflix's random content discovery feature.
  • How It Works: The button appears on the mobile app, offering random Shorts and full-length videos to users.
  • User Reactions and Content Impact: Users have mixed feelings, and content creators may need to adapt to this new discovery method.

YouTube, the globally renowned video-sharing platform, is currently in the process of testing a new feature known as “Play Something” on its mobile app. This feature is aimed at assisting users in discovering exciting content when they find themselves indecisive about what to watch. Much like Netflix’s “Play Something” button, introduced in 2021, YouTube’s “Play Something” offers users the thrill of a random video selection to break free from endless scrolling through the platform’s extensive library. This article delves into the details of YouTube’s latest venture, shedding light on how the “Play Something” feature operates, its potential impact on users, and the current state of its testing.

The Challenge of Content Discovery

In the vast landscape of online video content, deciding what to watch can be a daunting endeavor. YouTube, as a hub for user-generated content, hosts a diverse array of videos, spanning from bite-sized clips to full-length documentaries. To address the issue of content discovery and replicate the success of Netflix’s “Play Something,” YouTube is exploring the concept of a “Play Something” feature.

How “Play Something” Works

YouTube’s “Play Something” button is currently undergoing testing with select users on the mobile app. When users find themselves unsure of their viewing choice while scrolling through their homepage feed, the “Play Something” button appears as an option. A simple tap on this button takes users to a randomly selected video, adding an element of surprise and serendipity to their viewing experience.

Content Variety: Shorts and Full-Length Videos

A distinctive feature of YouTube’s “Play Something” is its inclusion of various video types. Initially, it was reported that the button exclusively directed users to YouTube Shorts, the platform’s short-form video feature. However, it has been discovered that the feature also includes random full-length videos. This versatility ensures that users can come across a wide spectrum of content, from quick, bite-sized videos to more extensive, in-depth pieces.

Customization and Watch History

One lingering question is whether YouTube considers a user’s watch history when selecting random videos through the “Play Something” feature. Netflix’s “Play Something” uses an algorithm that takes into account a user’s viewing history and preferences to make recommendations. It remains to be seen whether YouTube adopts a similar approach to ensure that the content suggested aligns with users’ interests and tastes.

Testing and User Experience

The “Play Something” feature is currently in the testing phase, and it is not accessible to all YouTube users. Google, YouTube’s parent company, has not revealed the extent of the feature’s rollout or its future plans for implementation. Users may have to wait for a broader release to enjoy the benefits of random content discovery on YouTube.

Feedback and User Reactions

While the feature is still in its nascent stages, it has already sparked the interest of many users. Just as Netflix’s “Play Something” has offered a valuable tool for viewers overwhelmed by the extensive content selection, YouTube’s “Play Something” could potentially provide a similar service. It can serve as a remedy for decision fatigue, helping users quickly find entertaining or informative videos without the hassle of making a selection.

User Reactions to YouTube’s “Play Something” Feature

Users have expressed mixed reactions to the “Play Something” feature during its testing phase. Some appreciate the spontaneity it brings to their viewing experience, providing a break from their usual content routine. Others may be hesitant about relinquishing their video selection entirely to the algorithm, preferring to maintain control over their viewing choices.

The Impact on Content Creators

YouTube’s “Play Something” feature raises important questions for content creators on the platform. With random video suggestions potentially becoming more common, creators may need to consider how their videos will be discovered. Quality content that captures viewers’ attention within the first few seconds will likely benefit from this feature, as users may quickly decide whether to continue watching or skip to another video.

Furthermore, the impact of the feature on advertising and monetization remains uncertain. Creators and advertisers may need to adapt their strategies if YouTube’s “Play Something” becomes a significant part of the user experience.

Comparison with Netflix’s “Play Something”

Netflix introduced its “Play Something” feature in 2021, which has received positive reviews for helping users discover new content quickly. YouTube’s version of the feature follows a similar principle, but there are key differences to consider:

FeatureYouTube’s “Play Something”Netflix’s “Play Something”
Content VarietyIncludes Shorts and full-length videosPrimarily focuses on licensed shows and movies
User-generated ContentOffers a wide range of user-generated contentFeatures primarily licensed content
CustomizationPotential use of user’s watch history for personalized suggestionsUses a user’s viewing history and preferences for recommendations


YouTube’s “Play Something” feature, currently in testing, offers users an innovative way to discover random videos when they are faced with the age-old question of “What should I watch?” While it shares similarities with Netflix’s “Play Something,” YouTube’s feature introduces a broader range of content, including Shorts and full-length videos.

The success of this feature will depend on its ability to provide an engaging and diverse selection of content while considering the user’s preferences. As the feature progresses through testing and potential wider deployment, it has the potential to simplify content discovery and keep viewers engaged with the platform’s vast array of videos.



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