Netflix to replace star ratings with thumbs ups and thumbs downs

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LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - Get ready to say goodbye to star ratings on Netflix: The company is getting ready to replace stars with Pandora-like thumbs ups and thumbs downs in the coming weeks.

Previously-given star rating will still be used to personalize the profiles of Netflix users, but the stars are disappearing from the interface altogether.

Netflix VP of Product Todd Yellin told journalists on Thursday during a press briefing at the company's headquarters in Los Gatos, Calif., that the company had tested the new thumbs up and down ratings with hundred of thousands of members in 2016. "We are addicted to the methodology of A/B testing," Yellin said. The result was that thumbs got 200% more ratings than the traditional star-rating feature.

Netflix is also introducing a new percent-match feature that shows how good of a match any given show or movie is for an individual subscriber. For example, a show that should close to perfectly fit a user's taste may get a 98% match. Shows that have less than a 50% match won't display a match-rating, however.

Yellin said that the company completely relied on its users rating titles with stars when it began personalization some years ago. At one point, it had over 10 billion 5-star ratings, and more than 50% of all members had rated more than 50 titles.

However, over time, Netflix realized that explicit star ratings were less relevant than other signals. Users would rate documentaries with 5 stars, and silly movies with just 3 stars, but still watch silly movies more often than those high-rated documentaries.

"We made ratings less important because the implicit signal of your behavior is more important," Yellin said.

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