Netflix Hopes It's Solved a "First World Problem" - Says Goodbye to Stars, and Hello to Thumbs
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Film , Television

Netflix Hopes It's Solved a "First World Problem" - Says Goodbye to Stars, and Hello to Thumbs

Netflix_logoThe challenges that we all likely face; first world problems, like finding something to watch on Netflix; something that the streaming platform recommends just for you, based on what you’ve watched previously; something that you hope you’ll actually love, or, at the very least, like, firming up your belief that the existing recommendation system works. Alas, for many, it doesn’t… not very well anyway. But is there any system that does? All the great minds at work, all the algorithms and money that’s been thrown at this problem, and still, it’s far from perfect. Although Netflix now seems to think it’s found something that works better than the star rating system it’s long employed.

The premiere streaming platform has announced that it is retiring its five-star rating system and replacing it with what they believe is a simpler and more intuitive “thumbs-up” and “thumbs-down” model. A “thumbs-up” tells Netflix that you like something and want to see similar suggestions. A “thumbs-down” lets Netflix know that you aren’t interested in watching that title and Netflix should stop suggesting it to you. You can still search for it, but they would’ve at least heard what you were trying to tell them – that you aren’t a fan – and it will no longer show up on your homepage.

In either case, using thumbs helps Netflix learn even more about your unique tastes so that they can do a better job suggesting stories they think you’ll love; at least, that’s the hope.

The star rating you see next to each title is being replaced with a personalized “% Match” score. This score is a prediction of what Netflix thinks you may enjoy watching, based on your own unique tastes. The “% Match” is based solely on their algorithms analyzing your individual viewing habits and behavior; it is not a measure of overall popularity across the service.

Netflix has had star ratings for much of its history, but they say that they’ve learned through over a year of testing that, while they’ve used stars to help you personalize your suggestions, many subscribers are confused about what they do. In contrast, when people see thumbs, they know that they are used to teach the system about their tastes with the goal of finding more great content. That’s why when Netflix tested replacing stars with thumbs, they say that they saw an astounding 200% increase in ratings activity.

For members who have provided star ratings in the past, they will continue to use that information to suggest great content. But the next time you find your new Netflix obsession, give it a “thumbs-up” instead (or a “thumbs-down if it does nothing for you).

Watch the short video Netflix released on the ratings system change, below:

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