In 2016, Netflix declared its five-star rating system for content was on its way out. Since then, a new system based on a binary thumbs up/down mechanism has rolled out in beta to thousands of users. Now it’s scheduled for official launch in April alongside a new “percentage match” feature designed to improve the service’s ability to show you stuff you actually want to watch.
The new rating feature is simply called “thumbs” and replaces a star system that Netflix believes caused a lot of confusion right from the start. “The star ratings represented compatibility—not quality. This means that 4-5 stars indicated that based on your previous viewing habits, Netflix thought you would enjoy a specific title,” a Netflix rep shared via e-mail. So, rather than acting like a movie critic, you’re simply telling Netflix that you liked something and want to see more things like it. It feels a bit like curating stations on Pandora.
In its testing, Netflix claims a 200 percent increase in engagement with the new ratings system when compared to the star ratings. Not only were more users participating, but there was also an increase in the number of ratings each person offered.
Netflix is also rolling out a “percentage match” scoring system, which further shifts the emphasis away from top-level qualitative judgments. Each title will have a percentage score associated with it to indicate whether the service thinks you’ll like it. “This percent match score is based on an individual member’s unique viewing patterns and habits—it is personalized for each Netflix member,” the Netflix rep said.
Right now, Netflix is being tight-lipped about how all of this works on the back end (Netflix has said they won’t be sharing more official technical info until closer to launch in April), but the company has indicated that take emphasis away from local markets and instead group users by behavioral data. And while you may not use the recommendations that much, this info is also could feasibly help guide the direction Netflix goes in the future when it comes to selecting shows and movies that will be available. Giving a thumbs-up to that movie or show you love may be more valuable than you thought.
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