Netflix Replacing Star Ratings With Thumbs?!

Netflix has announced that they have plans to replace user star ratings on the company's popular streaming service. The personal star ratings allowed the service to personalize the movie and television selections for Netflix users.

So what will come in place of Netflix's star rating system? Let's talk about it below.

roger ebert thumbs up

In place of the star system will be a simpler Pandora-like thumbs ups and thumbs down rating system. Netflix Vice President of Product Todd Yellin revealed the news during a press briefing on Thursday. Apparently, the company had tested the new thumbs up and down ratings with hundreds of thousands of members in 2016, and the result of the testing was that thumbs got 200% more ratings than the traditional star-rating system.

Personally, I've always preferred the 10 point rating system for movies as it allows for a more expansive scale to judge content on. I've talked about that recently, as there were rumors last year that IMDB might switch to a 5-star system.

Instead, Netflix is opting for a system that is akin to how Rotten Tomatoes calculates their Tomatometer. Instead of being a direct average of review scores (like Metacritic), the Tomatometer is the percentage of reviews that enjoyed a movie. With Netflix customers now having only two options, thumbs up or thumbs down, it makes the input a lot more simpler.

And the result is promising. The system will introduce a new percent-match feature that shows how good of a match any given show or movie is for an individual subscriber. For example, Netflix might tell me there is a 95% chance I'll like Stranger Things, but a 38% chance I'll like The Ranch.

At one point, Netflix had over 10 billion 5-star ratings and more than 50% of all members had rated more than 50 titles on the service. But over time, Netflix realized that star ratings were less relevant than other signals. For instance, Netflix subscribers would give documentaries 5-star ratings and stupid Adam Sandler movies 3-star ratings, but the data showed that the users would seek out those comedies time and time again. This is probably why Netflix made a deal with Adam Sandler for exclusive content.

One thing you may never have realized is the star rating you see next to unwatched content is not how Netflix users rated that show or movie, but the rating that Netflix believes you would give that content, figured out by an algorithm based on your past activity.

So Netflix's new percentage matching feature might just be a repackaged version of their current star recommendations, but the messaging seems a lot more clear.