Netflix is updating its ratings system — it’s got two thumbs now. On Monday, the world’s biggest subscription-based video streaming service announced it will offer a third thumbs-based option for you to provide your opinions on what you’re watching. In addition to Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down, Netflix members can vote for a title with “Two Thumbs Up”. Think of it as a way to signify greater satisfaction. If a Thumbs Up is akin to liking something, Two Thumbs Up conveys you love it. Netflix is rolling out the new rating metric from today, and it will be available next to the Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down buttons on Netflix apps for TV, Android, iPhone, and on Netflix.com on the Web.
Why Netflix is introducing Two Thumbs Up
“We’ve heard from members that it’s very important for them to distinguish between just liked titles from titles that they really loved. And so, we’ve built this feature, tested it, and we’re rolling it out [now] globally,” Netflix’s director of product innovation Christine Doig-Cardet told Gadgets 360 last week. In a blog post Monday, she added: “Consider Two Thumbs Up as a way to fine-tune your recommendations. A Thumbs Up still lets us know what you liked, so we use this response to make similar recommendations. But a Two Thumbs Up tells us what you loved and helps us get even more specific with your recommendations.”
For instance, if you loved the recently-released Abhishek Bachchan-starrer Dasvi or the Madhuri Dixit Nene-led The Fame Game — I would like to personally hear from you, by the way — then Netflix will give more weight to other movies and series that include its cast members. Or those that come from its makers, such as Karan Johar’s Dharmatic that produced the latter. This applies to every title on Netflix. If you loved Bridgerton’s second season that dropped on Netflix in late March, you might be treated to more shows or films starring the cast — or those from the home of its producer Shondaland.
What’s the value of Two Thumbs Up though? Is it double that of Thumbs Up? That would make sense after all. Doig-Cardet told me that there’s no “predetermined weight”, but rather, it’s just “another input that goes into our personalisation. It takes into account like what you’ve watched, what you’ve liked, what you disliked, and the Two Thumbs Up is just another input. It knows that that’s going to be a stronger signal than just liking, but there’s no predetermined weight.”
And why Netflix is moving away from its binary system
Two Thumbs Up is the first big change to Netflix’s rating system in half a decade. Almost five years to the day, Netflix abandoned its star rating system — it allowed you to rate titles on a scale of one to five stars — in favour of a binary one: thumbs up or down. At the time, Netflix said it would remove friction and simplify the whole process. Now, Netflix is complicating it a bit with Two Thumbs Up, as it brings back some level of gradation. Why is Netflix going against itself? Did it realise that the binary system was too simplified?
“What we heard directly from our members is that they were longing to have a wider spectrum of emotions to convey about a title,” Netflix’s director of personalization design Ratna Desai told Gadgets 360. “And obviously, that nuance of taste is very valuable to have a dialogue around, because it can improve recommendations in a new way. What we have here is another way to understand our members’ tastes and their evolving tastes. The binary system was definitely something that members engaged with, but was limiting. Now, we’re finding that there are new ways to look at our relationship with members.”
But wait, what about my already-rated titles?
Naturally, you can go back and change ratings for movies and series that you rated in the past. Netflix hinted that it might even make it easier for users to do this by way of a new user interface, though Desai and Doig-Cardet stopped short of revealing any specifics. They did note how positively Two Thumbs Up has been received during testing.
“We’ve been testing this feature for a few months, and actually, we’ve been surprised how much they’ve engaged with already-watched titles to update that input, now that they know that they have that option,” Doig-Cardet said. “So we’re not too concerned, because there’s a very high usage of the feature, not just like for newly-launched titles, but also those that people have already watched and rated in the past.”
“That goes to the point that there’s a willingness to fine tune their tastes, and there’s an eagerness with some subset of members to do this,” Desai added. “The fact that they’re going to the extent of going back in time and re-reviewing these titles shows us that there’s kind of like this longing and motivation for an unmet need.”
Can I get a Two Thumbs Down?
Now that Netflix has abandoned the binary system and expanded its thumbs-based approach, does this open the possibility of a “Two Thumbs Down” option? Doig-Cardet threw it back to the users and told Gadgets 360: “Yeah, if numbers indicate that that’s something that they desire. Right now, we don’t have that type of indication. Members tend to want to give more feedback on the positive side than the negative.”
Clearly, no one is listening to me. insert sad smiley face here