Netflix has decided to take a new approach to the user ratings of its content and opting for a thumbs up/thumbs down system over its current five-star rating system. The new system works similar to YouTube's rating system minus showing a public number of thumbs up vs thumbs down. It will only be used in the background for the recommendation engine. When the company put the new system through alpha and beta testing with thousands of users, the number of ratings jumped 200 percent. The companies Vice President of Products Todd Yellin stated that the reason the new thumbs rating approach works better is because what people watch is different than the importance they assign to a show. The example he gave was watching an Adam Sandler movie and war documentaries. People may rate the documentaries higher but are more likely to watch the comedies more often.
Under the current five star system Netflix takes into consideration a few factors for its algorithm when recommending programs for you to watch. It accounts for genres available, your streaming habits, previous ratings you've made, and the combined ratings of Netflix users with similar tastes. All the information is combined to deliver content it thinks you may like. Under this strategy, you are very likely to be stuck with the same genres of content across the board which may make it harder for you to discover content that you may not know about but would still enjoy. It isn't clear how well the new system will work to bring previously unnoticed content, but Netflix believes the system is a step in the right direction in recommendations.
The new system is set to start rolling out sometime in April and may take a little time to get to everyone so be patient. If you are wondering what will happen to all the ratings you have already made for the past number of years, don't worry, those will still be included in the new system. Netflix also made news on Wednesday when it announced plans on creating mobile cuts for its own produced movies and TV shows that could work better in that setting.