How Netflix’s new rating system plans to make accounts more personal

LOS GATOS, Calif. — Netflix is swapping its five-star rating system to a simple thumbs-up, thumbs-down model, a plan executives claim will make it easier for viewers to find the movies and shows they want to watch.

The old system — which allowed users to give movies and shows they enjoyed a relatively nuanced rating — will be phased out in April, Netflix vice president of product Todd Yellin announced Thursday.

Netflix has been experimenting with the thumb system for months. Last year, the company switched some subscribers to the new system as a beta test and found that the thumb model increased user reviews by about 200 percent.

That might be because there’s no middle ground, like the two- to four-star ratings.

Even though the new system has fewer options, Yellin said, it will better represent how people really feel about what they’re watching.

The thumbs-up, thumbs-down model implies a user is being asked for their opinion. On the other hand, the star-system is seen as more merit-based, Yellin said, and many users often gave critically acclaimed content high praise.

“What’s more powerful: You telling me you would give five stars to the documentary about unrest in the Ukraine; that you’d give three stars to the latest Adam Sandler movie; or that you’d watch the Adam Sandler movie 10 times more frequently?” Yellin asked. “What you do versus what you say you like are different things.”

Netflix will also introduce a percent match system along with the ratings model switch up.

An algorithm would predict the likelihood that a user will enjoy a movie or show, from 0 to 100 percent, based on what they liked and watched before. If the match is less than 50 percent, a percentage won’t be displayed.