Netflix is killing star ratings – so what’s coming instead?

Netflix is finally going to ditch its confusing star-based rating system, replacing it with a new thumbs-up/thumbs-down alternative.

For years, Netflix has offered viewers the opportunity to rate TV shows and movies using a five-star system. But when you scroll through your Netflix feed, you’ll also see star ratings for content you’ve never reviewed. What many viewers don’t realise is that these ratings are based on how much Netflix thinks you’ll like the show, rather than an overall score based on user ratings.

In a bid to fix that – and some other kinks in the star system – Netflix has confirmed that starting next month, the five-star scoring will be killed off entirely. Speaking to press during a briefing yesterday, Netflix VP of Product Innovation Todd Yellin described how using stars to rate content was a relic from the past (via The Verge):

“Five stars feels very yesterday now. We’re spending billions of dollars on the titles we’re producing and licensing, and with these big catalogs, that just adds a challenge.”

Yelling added that “bubbling up the stuff people actually want to watch is super important”.

todd yellinTodd Yellin heads up product innovation at Netflix

The new system will utilise thumbs-up and thumbs-down voting, and has already been A/B tested on users globally. According to Yellin, over 200% more ratings were logged with the new system. He suggested that this is because there’s an understanding that by giving a piece of content a thumbs-up or thumbs-down, you’re doing it to improve your own experience rather than rating it for others. This is much more useful than simply giving something a star-based score, Yellin explained:

“What more powerful: you telling me you would give five stars to the documentary about unrest in the Ukraine; that you’d give three stars to the latest Adam Sandler movie; or that you’d watch the Adam Sandler movie ten times more frequently?”

(pullqiote)What you do versus what you say you like are different things,” he added.

But Netflix is still going to keep showing you how likely it is that you’ll like a TV show or movie. Instead of a star score, you’ll now see a percentage that’s been concocted using algorithms. This data will be personalised, matching you to content based on what you already like.

The new changes will begin rolling out globally in April 2017.

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