Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

A lot of people don’t like Netflix’s new ratings system

Updated 6 years ago
Published Apr 10th, 2017 9:01PM EDT
Netflix Ratings
Image: Netflix

Netflix earlier this month implemented a sweeping change to its tried and true ratings system. Whereas the old ratings scheme relied upon a 5-star system, Netflix’s new design narrows down the possible review options to just two choices: a thumbs-up and a thumbs-down. Additionally, titles on Netflix will now be accompanied by a percentage figure intended to convey the odds a particular user will enjoy it.

More often than not, changes to frequently used software apps tend to generate quite a bit of backlash from users, and Netflix’s recent change is no exception. According to a new report from Exstreamist, most Netflix subscribers aren’t a fan of the new ratings system.

Surveying approximately 1,100 subscribers, Exstreamist found that 71% of respondents indicated that they disliked the new system. Meanwhile, 19% of respondents said they were a fan of the change with 10% of respondents indicating that they either didn’t notice the change or hadn’t yet formulated an opinion on it.

Meanwhile, a Reddit thread on the change yielded no shortage of interesting feedback, with one of the more notable critiques reading as follows:

The problem with the thumbs up / thumbs down is that there is now absolutely no difference between “I guess I didn’t hate this movie” and “This is the greatest movie I’ve ever seen in my life, and I want to see more like it.”

Both movies now get the exact same weight in voting.

That means I’ll be hesitant to “Thumbs up” movies that I only mildly enjoyed, because I don’t want to screw up my ratings.

This was a problem even with their 5-star system, because 3 stars was “Liked it” and 2 was “didn’t like it.” That meant that if I only kinda-sorta enjoyed a movie, I mean, I didn’t turn it off, but it wasn’t too great, I couldn’t rate that anything effectively

Explaining the impetus behind change, Netflix VP Todd Yellin told The Verge last week that the 5-star ratings system “feels very yesterday” while intimating that the new Pandora-esque ratings system will do a much better job of identifying content users will likely enjoy.

“What’s more powerful,” Yellin further added, “you telling me you would give five stars to the documentary about unrest in the Ukraine; that you’d give three stars to the latest Adam Sandler movie; or that you’d watch the Adam Sandler movie 10 times more frequently?”

As a final point, it’s worth noting that the 5-star ratings system previously used by Netflix didn’t measure the average rating sourced from all viewers. Rather, Netflix uses an algorithm to place every Netflix viewer into a group of viewers with similar tastes. In turn, when a user under the old system stumbled across a title with a 4-star rating, it was Netflix’s way of saying that “users with tastes similar to your own gave this title 4-stars.” As we highlighted in a piece detailing Netflix’s somewhat secret ratings system, it wasn’t uncommon “for the same program to bear differing ratings for different users.”

Yoni Heisler Contributor

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 15 years. A life long Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW. When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.