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Netflix Switches From Stars To Thumbs

How often do you actually rate the content you watch on Netflix? Do you find the five star rating system to be a little overwhelming? You’re not alone. Netflix has finally taken action on the consistently negative feedback that they have received around their old five star rating system. In April of 2017 Netflix will transition over to a thumbs up or thumbs down rating system.

According to Variety, Netflix first introduced the thumbs up or down rating system to several thousand subscribers in 2016. The beta A/B testing showed that the new rating system got 200% more ratings than the star based system. While the star ratings will no longer be visible, the metadata from your past ratings using that system will still be used by Netflix to improve its suggestions for you.

The two main reasons for the switch are relevancy and continued learning. Netflix is looking to keep their ratings data relevant by avoiding situations like documentaries getting higher ratings than comedies, yet comedies getting watched much more often. Discrepancies like that lower the value of Netflix’s ratings data. Secondly, Netflix realizes that they have already garnered the information they need about viewing habits from the percentage of subscribers who regularly utilized the five star rating system. By changing the rating system up, they hope to include more of their subscriber base who never bothered with the five star system.

According to Yellin, Netflix completely relied on the five star ratings for personalization when they first started rolling out individualized features. At one point in time, Netflix had more than 10 billion five star ratings, and more than half of Netflix users had rated 50 or more titles. Over time, Netflix began to realize that the data their ratings were reporting were skewed in certain issues, hence this new push to make their ratings data relevant again.

The end result is the thumbs up or thumbs down rating system that users will be immediately familiar with due to the proliferation of the same rating system by YouTube and Facebook. Netflix VP of Product, Tom Yellin told Variety, that “[They] made ratings less important because the implicit signal of your behavior is more important”.



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