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Netflix Gives its Five-Star Rating a Thumbs Down


On Thursday, Netflix vice president of product Todd Yellin said in a press briefing that the video streaming service will be changing its rating system from a five-star method to a simple thumbs up or thumbs down.

Yellin justified the decision, saying “Five stars feels very yesterday now. 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,” adding that “bubbling up the stuff people actually want to watch is super important.”

The update is due to arrive in April, but Netflix had been testing this new rating system last year. According to Yellin, over 200 percent more ratings were logged after the new system was introduced in just a couple of months. The thumbs up/thumbs down system designed to get more people to rate things, as people more commonly rate programs for their own experience, as opposed to rating it for others to see.

As Yellin notes, “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?”

In addition to the new rating system, Netflix will be adding percent matching: the streaming service will use algorithms to show each title with a percentage that indicates the likelihood that a user would enjoy it based on past demonstrated preferences.

While this new rating system turns Netflix users into Roman emperors at the coliseum, deciding the fate of various programs that battle it out in the blood-stained, dusty arena below, I think it more accurately reflects how people use Netflix. For me personally, there are two kinds of movies I watch on Netflix: movies that are fantastic (that have high-star ratings) or movies that are so horrible that they’re entertaining (with low-star ratings). With the thumbs up system, I can still recommend those horrid atrocities of film without likening them to actual good movies with five-star ratings.

[via The Verge]

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