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Netflix’s ratings system may soon be getting a big overhaul

January 11th, 2016 at 2:04 PM
Netflix Ratings System

Netflix’s Chief Product Officer Neil Hunt tells Business Insider that the streaming video giant is actively exploring ways to revamp the way in which programs on the site are rated. As a result, the current 5-star ranking system Netflix has relied upon for some time now may soon be on its way out the door.

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The impetus for the ratings overhaul, as Hunt tells it, is that viewers are prone to giving movies and TV shows bad ratings even if they happened to enjoy it. As a prime example, Hunt points to Adam Sandler’s recent film The Ridiculous Six; the film is already the most widely watched Netflix program in history but only has about a 3-star rating.

In other words, Hunt intimates that consumers often use the 5-star rating system as a means to categorize the artistic merit of a program rather than indicating their enjoyment level. This, Hunt notes, isn’t how the ratings system was intended to be used. As a result, this can throw something of a monkey wrench into Netflix’s recommendation engine.

So what might Netflix do to replace it?

Business Insider writes:

Netflix wants to find new and better ways of capturing how much you actually enjoyed yourself — not just how objectively good you thought the movie was. The two methods Hunt is currently tinkering with are a “like/dislike signal” and some form of “percent match.”

Is this a smart move? I’m not entirely sure. In fact, the notion of users ranking a film on anything other than their enjoyment level seems a bit far-fetched. Perhaps the rating of The Ridiculous Six skews lower because ratings on the whole are prone to self selection bias. Perhaps 100% of people who hated the film are incentivized to provide a rating while just 50% of people who loved the film think about doing the same.

A life long Mac user and Apple enthusiast, Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 6 years. His writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and most recently, TUAW. When not writing about and analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions, the most recent examples being The Walking Dead and Broad City.

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