The star ratings on Netflix are going bye-bye.
Starting this month, April, the company is replacing stars with a thumbs-up and thumbs-down ratings system - more akin to TiVo suggestions.
Netflix claims the new system got more ratings versus the traditional star-rating system when tested among a small pool of users last year. It is also designed to better highlight the content you prefer, so is now rolling it across the board.
Here's what you need to know about the change.
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What did those Netflix star ratings mean and how did they work?
For several years now, every time you logged on to Netflix to check out a movie or TV show, you'd see ratings for that movie or show in the form of filled-in stars. Five red stars meant the film or show is a perfect hit for you. One star meant that the film wasn't likely to be up your alley. However, if you always assumed those little stars on Netflix reflect the average rating given by other Netflix users, you're mistaken.
The entire system is actually customised to you and every other user. The number of stars you see come from reviews given by like-minded viewers. So, when you’re looking at movie or TV show’s splash page, the star rating isn’t a running average of how all Netflix users ranked the film, but rather a representation of those who have similar tastes as you and what they thought.
In other words, it's possible that the same movie displayed different ratings for different accounts. The film Step Brothers might've had five stars for you, but your grandma could've seen it with three stars.
Why is Netflix ditching star ratings?
Netflix is changing its ratings system for the first time in many years to make it more simple.
It is ditching the traditional five-star rating system to a thumbs-up / thumbs-down system, and it's starting to roll out to the company's apps and website soon.
Netflix first introduced the new rating system to hundreds of thousands of new Netflix users across the world last year. Netflix said it immediately noticed a drastic spike in engagement. Over 200 per cent more ratings were casted by users. And so, Netflix has decided to change the system, even though binary thumbs-up / thumbs-down doesn't appear as specific or enlightening as the stars.
How does Netflix's thumbs ratings work?
Users who rate movies actually do it to improve their own Netflix experience so that they'll see recommendations for content they'd prefer to watch. They aren't logging stars ratings just so some other users around the globe will know to watch a film they especially liked. Netflix just wants people to rate more so that it can start serving up the best content for them.
TiVo uses a similar system both sides of the Atlantic, on its own boxes in the States and through Virgin Media in the UK. You thumb-up or thumb-down a show and it will or won't automatically record it as a suggestion in future. Netflix's system works with its streamed content in a related way.
By giving a movie or show a thumbs-up, you will tell Netflix that you want to see more content like that. And by giving a movie a thumbs-down, you will tell Netflix to not recommend or "bubble up" similar content.
Instead of stars you will see a match rating under shows and movies in future. If something is nigh-on perfect for you, you might see a "95 per cent match", for example.
A show that has less than a 50 per cent match won’t display a match-rating.
Based on a global database of activity, Netflix is also figuring out that customers are willing to watch Netflix content that has been produced in other countries or has subtitles. So, it's finding these people and then figuring out who is like them and enjoys those kinds of things.
It's mixing and matching all this - again, with the purpose of "bubbling up" stuff people actually want to watch.