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05th Apr 2017

Netflix is about to make it a lot easier to find TV shows and movies you’ll like

Game changer...

Conor Heneghan

During testing of the new system, Netflix saw an astounding 200% increase in ratings activity.

One of the very few downsides of Netflix is trying to filter through the vast amount of content on the streaming service to find something new to watch after bingeing your way through Stranger Things or Better Call Saul in about two days.

Netflix will, of course, suggest content for you based on your viewing history, but they reckon that a new ratings system will make it easier for users to find a TV show or a movie that they’re going to want to watch.

In an effort to improve personalised suggestions for users, Netflix are retiring their five-star rating system and replacing it with a simpler and more intuitive thumbs-up and thumbs-down.

A thumbs-up tells Netflix that you like something and want to see similar suggestions. A thumbs-down lets them know you aren’t interested in watching that title and that they should stop suggesting it to you.

You can still search for it, but give it a thumbs down and it will no longer show up on your homepage.

The star rating you see next to each title is being replaced with a personalised % Match score, a prediction of what Netflix thinks you may enjoy watching, based on your own unique tastes. The % Match is based solely on Netflix algorithms analysing a user’s individual viewing habits and behaviour and is not a measure of overall popularity across the service.

Netflix have been testing the new ratings system for over a year and have learned that many Netflix users are confused about what star ratings do.

They say it’s because we’ve all gotten used to star ratings on e-commerce and review apps, where a rating contributes to an overall average and the star rating shown next to a restaurant or a pair of shoes is an average of all the reviewers.

On those apps, being a reviewer can be helpful to others, but the primary goal isn’t always to help you get better suggestions.

In contrast, however, when people see thumbs, they know that they are used to teach the system about their tastes with the goal of finding more content. As a result, Netflix say that when they tested replacing stars with thumbs, they saw an astounding 200% increase in ratings activity.

Information from star ratings will still be used to suggest content on Netflix, but by using the thumbs up and thumbs down system, Netflix say they will be able to do a better job of suggesting your next great binge-worthy show or a movie when the mood takes you.

If it helps narrow down what can feel like an agonisingly long search for a new TV fix, then that’s just fine by us.

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