Photo courtesy of Netflix
Always on the prowl for new and mostly subtle ways to increase viewer satisfaction, Netflix is constantly tweaking and adding to its platform to not only attract first-time subscribers, but also to maintain the vastness of its current subscriber base. While the streaming service's execs have just recently talked about optimizing the programming itself in certain ways, it looks like a big upgrade is coming to one feature that's been around almost as long as Netflix itself has: the five-star ratings system, which will soon cease to exist.
Over the next few weeks, Netflix viewers will notice a rollout update on their interfaces that will completely excise the star ratings system, and it will be replaced by a far simpler method of passing judgment. All you'll have to do is give a particular program a thumbs up or a thumbs down. Not the most original thing in the world, but then neither is ratings things with stars. And it's hardly in bad form to call to mind the careers of Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert.
The impetus behind the change is in part due to series and movies that attain higher star ratings but are viewed far less than programs that earned lower scores. (Say, how Adam Sandler's Netflix movies are critically pummeled, but have amassed way more viewings than award-winning documentaries and the like.) As well, the simplified Yea-or-Nay judgment will play into another new element that affixes shows to users based on a percentage match, which will predict how much subscribers will enjoy something. If you like a lot of superhero fare, you'll likely get a higher match rate than you would for a preschooler's puppet series.
And don't worry about all of your previous star ratings going out the window. According to Netflix VP of Product Todd Yellin's recent press briefing (via Variety), they'll still be a part of the algorithm that Netflix uses to recommend things, but it'll just happen without the stars actually showing up on screen. Whether you're excited, bummed or indifferent to this news, Netflix probably doesn't mind, since the folks behind the revamped ratings system have already seen it to be a success during its testing phase, which saw a 200% increase in user ratings among the hundreds of thousands that were privy to the new choices.
Now, Netflix has had this upgrade rolling along since 2016, so there was clearly already interest in making this a viable option for subscribers. But one can't help but feel the timing of this announcement is SUPER coincidental, considering the streaming giant is facing two different forms of extreme backlash in terms of opinions and ratings. One involves the highly anticipated Marvel comic adaptation Iron Fist, which has been nearly universally slammed ahead of today's Season 1 release. And the other involves an alleged conspiracy involving biased users intentionally down-voting comedian Amy Schumer's recently released The Leather Special over political reasons. Timing is everything.
Head to our 2017 Netflix premiere schedule to see everything the streaming service has coming this year, such as those new Dave Chappelle specials, which I'm going to give 7 thumbs up if it's possible. While waiting on those shows, check out our midseason premiere schedule and our summer TV guide to mark your calendars for everything else that's coming to the small screen soon.