By Yohana Desta. Photos: Getty Images.
Netflix is no long interested in subtlety. At a press briefing on Thursday, the streaming platform announced that it is doing away with its current five-star rating system and switching over to a thumbs up–thumbs down system. However, the change is less about nullifying moderate viewer opinions and more about finding out exactly what viewers really like to watch.
The five-star rating has helped shape the user experience on Netflix, influencing the types of films and TV shows that would later be recommended to them. But the obsessive minds at Netflix say that they made the change for very specific, data-driven reasons. While testing out the new feature with hundreds of thousands of users, they noticed it got 200 percent more ratings than the star system did, Variety reports.
“We are addicted to the methodology of A/B testing,” Netflix VP of Product Todd Yellin said at the briefing, per Variety.
With the new thumbs system comes a percent-match system, which shows users how closely a certain show or movie might fit their taste. If something gets less than a 50 percent rating, the match rating won’t show at all. (Which might make things tougher for the trolls who want to flood, say, Amy Schumer’s comedy specials with hyper-focused hatred and one-star reviews.)
Netflix also changed the five-star system because it found that users didn’t bother using it, or used it in oddly predictable ways. “Users would rate documentaries with five stars, and silly movies with just three stars, but still watch silly movies more often than those high-rated documentaries,” Variety notes. Looks like all our faux-deep viewing patterns have been exposed.
Of course, all this really means is that Netflix is only determined to get better at figuring out exactly what users want to watch. It’s a marvelous tool for those who don’t want to sift through thousands of titles, and will hopefully end the groupthink ouroboros of friends going “What do you wanna watch?” “I dunno, what do you wanna watch?” Netflix knows what you want to see. And now you never, ever have to leave.
This story originally appeared on Vanity Fair.
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