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Thumbs up or down? The way you use Netflix just got overhauled

netflix ditches star ratings 38433378  thumbs up and down hand sign
Stars are out, and thumbs are in. If the critic in you loves nothing more than star-rating a Netflix movie once the credits start to roll, you’ll be disappointed to learn that the streaming giant has ditched the option.

After announcing the plan last month, the company officially rolled out a replacement system on Wednesday. Now, you’ll be able to give a simple thumbs-up or thumbs-down opinion in the same way as you do on Spotify Radio and other similar services. Netflix says the new method proved popular in testing, and will help its recommendation engine to surface more accurate movie suggestions for users.

Star ratings are ‘very yesterday’

Netflix vice president of product Todd Yellin announced the upcoming change during a press gathering at the company’s head office in Los Gatos, California, on March 16, as The Verge reported. Yellin said the star-rating system “feels very yesterday,” adding that he believes the new system will be much better for “bubbling up the stuff people actually want to watch, [which] is super important.”

In a new video released on the day of the launch, Netflix explained further that the star system was “a misunderstood hero.” Many users didn’t realize that the number of stars they saw was not a rating from viewers or critics but actually a number based on their own viewing preferences and likelihood of enjoying it. The thumbs system will eliminate that confusion, plus help the streamer make more accurate predictions for individual viewers.

Introducing Thumbs | Netflix

Netflix decided to change its rating system after testing the thumbs method with hundreds of thousands of subscribers last year. Comparing the two methods, the company discovered that users were overwhelmingly more likely to rate a movie when given a binary choice than when faced with the traditional star-rating system. The more a Netflix user rates movies they’ve watched, the better the chance that the streamer’s algorithms will offer up content they’ll enjoy. This, in theory, should make for happier users who, to Netflix’s delight, will be more likely to fork out money for continued service.

Of course, another way of discovering awesome content on Netflix is by checking out DT’s carefully curated movie lists, which are updated every month.

Yellin said that following testing, the streaming service is also going to extend the use of percentage ratings that are created via more algorithmic wizardry. The percentage figure is tailored to the individual user according to their viewing habits and previous ratings, and so should give the user some idea of how likely they are to enjoy the flick.

Notably, the algorithms are crunching data on a global basis rather than by a country or regional basis. Yellin said its stats show viewers seem more than happy to watch good content from other markets, and so the company wants to pull all the data together to offer a broad range of quality content for users.

So how do you feel about Netflix ditching the star-rating system: Thumbs up or thumbs down?

Updated on 04-05-2017 by Stephanie Topacio Long: Revised to reflect the rollout of the new system.

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Trevor Mogg
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