Netflix Replacing 5-Star Rating System With Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down Approach

Image courtesy of Doug Hay

If you’re the kind of person who thinks very carefully before rating anything you watch on Netflix — carefully weighing factors like plot, direction, and cinematography — prepare yourself for a bit of a change: The streaming service is doing away with its five-star rating system in favor of a “thumbs up/thumbs down” approach.

As The Verge reports it, the change will roll out globally in April.

“Five stars feels very yesterday now,” Netflix’s vice president of product Todd Yellin said at a press briefing. “We’re spending many billions of dollars on the titles we’re producing and licensing, and with these big catalogs, that just adds a challenge.”

When Netflix tested the new rating approach, it saw that over 200% more ratings were logged with the thumb system than the starring method.

The thumbs up/thumbs down method is more about improving the viewer’s own experience, rather than trying to score content for everyone else, Yellin explains.

“What’s 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?” Yellin said, pointing out that watching behavior can differ from what people say they like.

The system will also have a new percent matching component, with an algorithm spitting out a percentage below each title showing users how likely it is that they’ll have a good time on a first date with that content.

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