Netflix Replaces Star Ratings With Thumbs-Up

YouTube screengrab

The new rating system will include a score to indicate whether a Netflix member will like a film or TV show.

Say goodbye to Netflix's star rating system. 

The streamer is replacing the five-star rating for its library of films and TV series with a new thumbs-up-based method for members to indicate which titles they enjoy.

Beginning next week, members will be able to click on a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down icon to tell Netflix whether or not they are interested in a film or TV series. Netflix will also introduce a new match score that indicates how likely a member is to like a particular title.

It's a big change for Netflix, which has relied on the star system since it was a DVD company. But Netflix executives say the change was a necessary upgrade to Netflix's recommendation system. "When we shift from a star rating to a simple thumbs-up, thumbs-down, people intuitively understand, 'Oh, I'm teaching Netflix about what I like and what I don't like,'" says Netflix director of product innovation Cameron Johnson, adding that early tests have already shown a boost in rating activity by 200 percent. "What we're doing is modifying a system that we've had to make it more intuitive for our members."

While most star ratings, on recommendation platforms like Yelp or via product reviews on Amazon.com, for example, are averages of all reviews, Netflix says its rating was always designed to represent an individual member's compatibility with a specific title. That created confusion that the company hopes to clear up with its new system. 

Johnson adds that the more simplified the recommendation engine, the quicker people can find and begin watching shows and films that they will enjoy. "Our goal is to try and get people to spend less time browsing and more time watching," he says. "The more we can personalize, it's going to lead to a much better experience."

Netflix members will still be able to access and modify past star ratings as it converts to the thumbs-up system, and Netflix says it will continue to use that data to create personalized recommendations. 

Netflix first announced the change in mid March.

Watch the company's video explaining the new feature: 

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