HBO Max joins Netflix in offering viewers a shuffle option – but there's a twist...

HBO Max logo
HBO Max is joining Netflix in the binge watch shuffling stakes. (Image credit: WarnerMedia)

HBO Max has added the option of shuffle play on a select number of shows. 

Shuffle, which chooses something at random for you to stream, is already an option on Netflix, and has been trialled by both Prime Video and Hulu

HBO Max launched the option on Tuesday (March 22), but it's only available on the service's desktop interface at the time of writing. Announcing the plan, a spokesperson for the service said: "With an added element of serendipity, selecting the shuffle button lets you kick your feet up and start watching faster."

But, unlike Netflix's shuffle offering, which launched in the middle of 2021, HBO Max's new function has a twist...

The Play Something feature on Netflix is now available for Android devices

A shuffle-style feature is already available on Netflix. (Image credit: Netflix)

What is Shuffle Play?

Much as you would with a lengthy playlist of songs or an artists' back catalog on a streaming service, Shuffle Play offers viewers the chance to be randomly assigned something to watch. 

With Netflix, that's a button called 'Play Something', which picks a TV show or movie based on what the streaming giant's algorithms think you'll love, or something you've already popped on your watchlist. 

HBO Max are now getting in on the act, but their offering is different to Netflix in that it’s limited to 45 shows, at least initially, and the shuffle option will choose a random episode of one of those shows for you. 

Why have HBO Max taken this approach?

It's a different aim from Netflix, which wants to turn you to something entirely new. HBO Max's feature, though, knows you like the show already – you just don't want to scroll through multiple seasons to find the episode you want. 

The list of shows in the initial 45 are offerings like South Park, Friends, Curb Your Enthusiasm and The Big Bang Theory; shows with 100s of episodes and shows that HBO Max subscribers will watch over and over again. 

Likewise, with travel programming like Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, where each episode finds the sadly departed TV chef in a different city across the world, or cooking shows like Selena + Chef – where Selena Gomez cooks alongside different chefs – you aren't following a narrative. Being taken to a random setting is part of the joy of the show to begin with...

Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain's HBO Max offering is one of 45 shows that supports Shuffle Play. (Image credit: CNN)

Which HBO Max shows can you shuffle?

The list, thus far, is as follows:

  • A World of Calm
  • Adventure Time
  • Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown
  • Apple & Onion
  • Chappelle Show
  • Courage the Cowardly Dog
  • Craig of the Creek
  • Curb Your Enthusiasm
  • Ed, Ed and Eddy
  • ER
  • Flight of the Conchords
  • Fresh Prince
  • Friends
  • Full House
  • Great Pottery Throwdown
  • Hot Ones
  • How It Really Happened
  • Impractical Jokers
  • Key and Peele
  • Looney Tunes
  • Martin
  • Mike & Molly
  • Regular Show
  • Reno 911!
  • Rick & Morty
  • Robot Chicken
  • Scooby-Do, Where Are You!
  • Selena + Chef
  • Sesame Street
  • South Park
  • Teen Titans Go!
  • The Amazing World of Gumball
  • The Big Bang Theory
  • The Boondocks
  • The Mentalist
  • The Middle
  • The Nanny
  • The Office
  • The Shot: Uninterrupted
  • Tom and Jerry
  • Total Dramarama
  • Two and a Half Men
  • We Bare Bears
  • Whose Line is it Anyway
  • Young Sheldon
Tom Goodwyn
Freelance Entertainment Writer

Tom Goodwyn was formerly TechRadar's Senior Entertainment Editor. He's now a freelancer writing about TV shows, documentaries and movies across streaming services, theaters and beyond. Based in East London, he loves nothing more than spending all day in a movie theater, well, he did before he had two small children…