Looks like Netflix is looking to change a big aspect of their site. No, they’re not going to be upping their prices or axing all their non-original content, but one key part of their interface will be getting the chop soon. We’re talking about the ratings system. For as long as Netflix has been streaming movies (I can’t recall if it was this way back when they had their mail-only service), they’ve had the five-star system.
But their star system wasn’t just any old star system that averaged all the user’s inputted ratings. No. This was a system that utilized your streaming history and personal ratings to cater a star that they believed would fall in line with your own personal tastes. So if you gave all the Transformers movies one-star ratings, there’s a good chance that a film like San Andreas would pop up with a one or two-star rating for you. The goal there was a good one: to cater shows or movies to you that you’d enjoy so you’d be more likely to come back, and more likely to stick around as a subscriber.
Well, no more! Netflix is now simplifying the process. Rather than have a five-star system, they’re switching over to a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” system, Variety reports. So what brings about this big change? Well, for starters, it results in more user ratings.
“We are addicted to the methodology of A/B testing,” Netflix VP of Product Todd Yellin told journalists this past Thursday. “The result was that thumbs got 200% more ratings than the traditional star-rating feature.”
The logic makes sense. With a more binary system, each rating feels like precious, users don’t need to waste too much brainpower thinking about it. They just watch a movie or show, and if they like it, can give it a thumbs up. If they don’t, thumbs down. Simple. That’s not the only reason. In doing this, Netflix is hoping that the ratings will be more relevant to users.
The example used by the outlet is that a lot of subscribers will give five stars to some pretentious documentary, but one star to, say, San Andreas, despite the fact that you’re perhaps more likely to watch a popcorn flick like San Andreas than a heavy crime piece like Amanda Knox.
“We made ratings less important because the implicit signal of your behavior is more important.”
The end result will hopefully be a more accurate and meaningful experience for users. It will be less about you trying to meticulously express how you felt about a film, and more about your gut feeling, which is more useful in trying to cater content to you.
Netflix is also adding a special match percentage feature. Users will be able to see how well a film matches their personal tastes, but if it’s under 50 percent, the match-rating won’t be shown. While my instinct is to think this veers to close into star-rating territory, if this match-rating is based on a more helpful thumbs up, thumbs down system, then there’s a likelihood it’ll be more helpful in the long run.
We think this is a step in the right direction for the streaming service. While back in the mid-2000s, it was cool to give a very specific opinion about something, as time has gone on, these services have become ingrained in our lives much more, and we no longer want to take the extra time to think about it. We just want something to work. In giving us the opportunity to approve or disapprove in one easy rating, it’ll allow the service to serve us better without having to think much.
Netflix isn’t the first one to make this transition. A while back, YouTube made the jump from a five-star system to a thumbs up, thumbs down one. While I can’t speak to how it’s worked out for YouTube as a company, as a user, I can tell you I’ve rated far more videos with this new system than I ever did with the star-system.
All in all, it seems like a solid move. What do you think? Is it the right move for Netflix to switch things up like this? Let us know your thoughts down below!
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