Netflix Officially Kills Star Ratings, Replacing Them With Thumbs Up and Down

House of Cards
Courtesy of Netflix

Will Netflix users give a thumbs up or down to its latest change?

The No. 1 streaming-subscription service announced that on Wednesday it is retiring its longstanding five-star rating systems for content recommendations. Instead, users will rate TV shows and movies they like using a thumbs-up or thumbs-down.

Netflix revealed the plans to phase out star ratings last month, prompting a wave of complaints among users who have grown to love the feature.

Instead of the star rating next to each title, Netflix users will see a personalized percentage “match score.” That’s a prediction “of what Netflix thinks you may enjoy watching, based on your own unique tastes,” Cameron Johnson, the company’s director of product innovation, wrote in a blog post. The match score is based solely on algorithms analyzing a user’s individual viewing habits and behavior, not a measure of overall popularity among all Netflix viewers.


Stranger Things

Netflix Replacing Star Ratings With Thumbs Ups and Thumbs Downs

According to Netflix, the thumbs-based ratings will produce far more accurate recommendations for what you want to watch — and, according to Johnson, many users have been confused about what the five-star ratings were used for. The company says when it tested out thumbs ratings, it saw a 200% increase in ratings activity.

If Netflix users give a TV show or movie a thumbs down, they will still be able to find it by searching for it, but it will no longer show up on their homepage.

“The more you teach us about your unique tastes, the better job we can do suggesting your next great binge-worthy show or that perfect title for movie night,” Johnson wrote.

Netflix says it will continue to factor in subscribers’ previous star ratings to suggest content.

Watch a video from Netflix explaining the change in its rating system:

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 70

Leave a Reply


Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. John Donaldson says:

    I’m really struggling to figure out how to pick movies on Netflix without stars. The up/down thumb method is not informative so I’m lost.

    I discovered that Netflix DVD still has stars. Also I can look at IMDB then search Netflix for a movie I’ve picked on IMDB but that is a tedious process.

    I find myself using Amazon most of the time now.

  2. Fred Z says:

    I’m slow to react, but I’m with the NetFlix haters now.

    NetFlix is cramming all kinds of SJW leftist crapola into their new programming and then claiming it matches my taste. Liars, bastard faced liars. I’m cancelling.

    What’s more, I’m selling a rather large block of NetFlix stock. I’ve done well, but all I see is disaster ahead for them, and for me if I hold.

  3. Bob says:

    Byebye Netstinks. Try avoiding Poundland the next time you buy more movies.

  4. Constantine says:

    Good job Netshit. I’ll be canceling your asses. Stick with Hulu and amazon

  5. Harate says:

    The stars allowed you to acknowledge that you liked a movie (3 star) without giving it the scoring weight of a movie you loved (5 star.)

    I don’t understand how creating two absolute options would improve the personal algorithm at all. I would be inclined to not rate a movie at all if I didn’t absolutely hate it or love it. How could that be helpful for the overall statistics?

    Comparing it to dating apps shows the true intent. Dumber engagement mechanics for dumb people. They don’t care about the fine tuning of suggestions for movie buffs. They want to know if the morons liked or disliked a particular episode of their proprietary content.

  6. Peter says:

    This new rating system gets 5 thumbs down from me!!!!!

  7. bliz says:

    thanks for whining amy schumer….

  8. JimS says:

    I have no idea why Netflix thinks that I want to know what they think I think. I get some value from an overall average star rating. I get no value from ratings that don’t consider quality.

  9. says:

    Once Amazon videos prime gets so much juice i’ll be canceling netflix thanks to their new retarded rating skills.

  10. Garry says:

    This thumbs up/down seems to try and match genres. It ignores quality (probably good for netflix, considering how poor Iron Fist is). So if you like lots of Marvel movies etc. it will now try and suggest Luke Cage and Iron Fist as high matches, completely ignoring the fact that they’re both substandard crap. I can understand genres all on my own. I merely want to find good examples of them. Now i have to read reviews of shows on third party sites before watching something. So the process just got a lot ess user friendly.

  11. David says:

    There are certain movies that you will never get a rating on. For example I just watched “Fire In The Sky.” It was relatively bad. But not full on thumbs down bad. And obviously doesn’t get a thumbs up either. Come on Netflix, this is ridiculous. I give it 2 stars. I give the thumbs system 0 stars.

  12. Mary Daniel says:

    I love Netflix! However, I do not like the change from stars to thumbs. Whatever algorithm they used with stars was working just fine with its recommendations for me. The stars allowed a selection of assessments. Please, Netflix, change it back!

  13. I am very sad to see the best rating system go. The star system was great and one of the main reasons I preffered Netflix over Amazon where the stars are based on popularity, not my taste for movies. If the star system was replaced for a percentage for every movie I would be OK with it. But I can see that only a few movies are showing the percentage and not others. Also…there is a lot more than: I like it (thumbs up) and I don’t like it (thumbs down)…How about I loved it!… how about I liked it, but not my favorite movie…I think Netflix is underestimating their users.

  14. PaulCire says:

    This is what happens when big business make shortsighted changes for personal gain at the expense of its consumers, and then disguise it as an “improvement” to their service/product. I hope Netflix loses a nice chunk of paying customers for such a foul, transparent scam. By the way Shitflix, your rating system is a joke. Shitflix says I have a 96% compatibility with a child’s cartoon…even though I’ve never watched cartoons. Morons!

    • Howard says:

      Totally agree this rating system is worse than the previous system. This rating system is a way to cover up the poor movies being offered by Netfilx

    • Kaput says:

      Yes, the new percentage is a joke. A movie I previously rated 2 starts showed a match at 98% (that was last week)

      Now, I cannot see any recommendations. List on browser does not show anything (used to show stars), the show does not show a percentage, and same on my Roku, So I am not sure where it all disappeared.

    • Sean Feehan says:

      Yeah tell me about it, it thought I would like some stupid ass indian movie, i’m like… I’m an American and I don’t watch shit if it ain’t in English why the hell would I want this?

  15. Andy Bird says:

    Netflix propaganda ensures the individual is unaware of collective opinion, making themselves less culpable to their wider paying audience. All under the dubious guise of tailored viewing. Frankly I’m not fooled by it and will be leaving Netflix. Well done!

  16. Jeff says:

    as of today (April 10) I still have the star ratings when I use Netflix through my Roku. The star ratings ended on my mobile and PC apps on April 5 but for some reason the Roku app is unchanged.

  17. John says:

    That new system rated me almost 90% match for Steven Seagal, which I would never watch in a billion years. Movies can can not be compaired to a stupid comment or photo that you can “like”! Something can be tolerable to one and perfectly wonderful to another. It’s up to the viewer to make the choice if they want to take a risk on a marginal star rating. Now I have to go outside of Netflix to see what people are saying about a movie? My movie watching has already be cut in half because the this horrible idea.

  18. Vail says:

    Such a silly thing to do, is it really too “hard” for people to rate something between 1-4 stars? I do not feel just positive or just negatively about every thing I watch on Netflix, so this latest dumbing down is not useful for me. No one I know is enjoying this at all.

  19. Dale Huhtala says:

    I give the new rating system a thumbs down. Does that mean it won’t show up anymore?

    There’s a lot of garbage shows on Netflix. The 1 or 2 stars tells me not to waste my time. If others give it a thumbs down, I probably won’t see that.

    Not a good plan.

    Thumbs down, Netflix!

  20. Christina says:

    I hate the new system. It feels like a slap in the face to long-time, loyal subscribers. Why dummy down something that works? Where are all these stupid people who couldn’t navigate a 5 star rating system?

    • John Donaldson says:

      I’m really struggling to figure out how to pick movies on Netflix without stars. The up/down thumb method is not informative so I’m lost.

      I discovered that Netflix DVD still has stars. Also I can look at IMDB then search Netflix for a movie I’ve picked on IMDB but that is a tedious process.

      I find myself using Amazon most of the time now.

      I will not contribute to the new system. I may watch something but I have ceased rating anything.

      I tried to delete my 10 years of ratings but it has to be one one at a time.

  21. ewa budzianowski says:

    On average your star system used to work with some exceptions.. So ideally I would rather choose a critic/site I can check the movie I intend to watch, For me such site is Ebert. They still maintain very high standards and I can relay on their reviews. I always agree with them. I don’t think you can incorporate such a feature as a link to a chosen, reliable site.

    • Vail says:

      >> For me such site is Ebert<<

      Huh? Roger Ebert, who is not alive?
      Good heavens. I always disagreed with him anyway, so that is still not helpful. Perhaps I am not understanding you correctly? .

      • WolfLady says:

        “Vail” here seems to have an attitude problem. If you can’t play nicely with the other kids, then please stay home and keep your snide remarks to yourself. The comments that are “not helpful” here are *yours.*

  22. TheCritic says:

    I rate Netflix’s new rating system thumb down and a middle finger.

  23. Thedude3445 says:

    Absolutely usless, especially to someone like me whose recommendations are already out of whack because of my extremely rare use of 5 star ratings, which the algorithm does not seem to understand (I constantly have 4.6,4.8-star recommendations that I end up rating a 3). I cannot rate movies on a binary scale.

  24. WolfLady says:

    Very few people who subscribe to Netflix actually take the time to research online reviews of movies or shows. They depend on the aggregate star votes on Netflix to help them make decisions. If I see a movie listed with two stars, I’m pretty sure it’s going to be stinker. With Netflix’s star rating system, I liked the fact that I could save myself a lot of time (and groans) by avoiding bad shows with bad star ratings. The only reason I can think of for doing away with a good system like that would be some sort of monetary motive. Perhaps filmmakers are giving Netflix a financial incentive to remove a system that can shine a negative light on some of their shows. Otherwise, the stated (convoluted) reason that Netflix is giving for doing away with the star system and replacing it with a totally useless up or down vote is utter nonsense.

    • Vail says:

      Lalalalal lots of words, folks, not necessary they did it because stupid FaceBook has become the standard for everything, and you are being treated like idiots. Or as someone above mentioned, a bit of a slap in the face. Write to Netflix, tell them this is not acceptable.

  25. Mathew says:

    I have been using Netflix since 2013. I always enjoyed the star rating system. I am not yet use to the thumbs up and down rating system. I would rather have the star rating system.

    • Vail says:

      Four whole years, wow. 2002 here, and back then I thought “Well, this is great for those of us who cannot go to films at the Movie Theater, but how will they survive with just the shut-ins?” Wacky how it actually worked with people who can leave their houses.

  26. Caroline L Philpot says:

    the movies they show as 4 and 5 star are garbage. I am sick of all the foreign films I have to read and try and watch at the same time as well as the ones I cannot understand what the heck they are saying. This way they can still keep their 5 star rating showing to other viewers and get them to watch the garbage as the rating cannot go down with a thumbs up or down rating. I too am getting ready to cancel this movie streaming and try someone else. I want to enjoy my movies, understand what is being said, and not have to read and try and watch at the same time. Netflix sucks!

  27. Brad Miller says:

    If it wasnt for a handful of series like Stranger Things, Narcos, Peaky Blinders, OITNB, I would cancel today. This new rating system which I already hate, just means I have to wade through more garbage content than in the past without any way of sorting out said garbage. And for those that have been on Netflix for years now like me, you know outside of their original series, the overall content has gotten worse due to Amazon Prime and others.

  28. ChairmanMaose says:

    Change it back now!! Netflix is trying to dupe people into watching the mediocre and the stinkers that are so prevalent on the service. The star system worked too well an that was the problem. If the service wasn’t so inexpensive they would loose subscribers galore with such mediocrity.

  29. Monty says:

    i hate the fact that all of these damn websites want to predict what i want to watch, or look at, or buy.. people change.. how do i find something new if it’s always based on something else i might i have liked or bought in the past.. i want to know what’s popular to the masses, not what’s popular to me

  30. nerdrage says:

    I don’t mind the switch to thumbs but I’m highly suspicious of the way Iron Fist jumped from a barely four star to 98% match. Hmm. Somehow I doubt that. Maybe I should watch it till it bores me and thumbs-down it. Have to train this damn thing all over again???

  31. Luna Cascade says:

    My taste vary alot! I like a variety of genre weather that be older movies, classics or TV shows. Netflix don’t try and predict for me. My current subscription includes both streaming and dvd’s. But I find the limited selection for streaming is subpar. They really need to step up the streaming offerings. I’m probably going to cancel streaming for that reason. No thumbs up, thumbs down or star rating for me!

  32. stormbloom says:

    This is a major disappointment! The star ratings were pretty accurate from my perspective; I have found it impossible to tolerate any of their movies/shows that were minus more than two stars, now I have no ideas which movies those are. In fact, I can’t see anything about them until I hover on them, which means, if I WERE TO continue using netfilx — which I’m NOT GOING TO, I would be wasting so much more time trying to find something I can actually sit through.

    I’m not confused by the stars. N-flix just needs to accept that their releases are 90% garbage hence the low ratings. N-Flix is just making it harder for us to sift through the hand held ghost hunter movies and hitler documentaries.

    You want to make your site less confusing, change the name to B-Flix so people will know that it’s low quality garbage you are trying to push.

  33. Shane says:

    For those who are complaining that movies and shows they didn’t like are getting high percentage scores now, realize that the percentage scores are not only based on what you rated it but also your viewing history. So do as I have been doing in recent months (before this change even happened) and delete anything you didn’t like from your viewing history. Just keep the movies and shows that you enjoyed.

  34. This is just a way for Netflix to push mediocre content. They take away a system that lets people know the movie or show is a one or two star so they will be more likely to watch something Netflix did not pay much for. Quality content cost money and even though there may be some small truth to their personal ratting system you can bet their spreadsheets show increased profit at your expense. If you want Netflix to bring back the star system go to as many websites as possible and let people know what you think.

    • nerdrage says:

      I’ve definitely noticed some titles going from mediocre (3.5 stars or so) to suddenly a very strong match (95% or better). Something fishy is going on! Am I gonna have to go on a thumbs-downing tear here?

  35. Stan says:

    If Netflix goes the way the rest of the Internet has, soon they’ll eliminate the down-voting too (because someone’s little feelings might get hurt by down votes). Then you’ll only be able to up-vote or not vote at all.

    This change has ruined Netflix’s excellent predictive ratings. I’m sure I’ll end up watching less because of it.

  36. Lucia Antonelli says:

    I find this new system rediculous! It is difficult to see the thumbs icon without getting my nose to the screen, and at least the *’s gave me some semblance of whether or not I would even bother. Now, I have no info at all when it reads NEW, with no percentages! Get the STARS BACK!

  37. James Robert says:

    Shocking, after Amy Schuemer(whatever her name is) cries about how Nazis and white people disliked her NETFLIX special because racism and sexism Netflix removes the rating system weeks later. SJWs are ruining everything now. Subscription gone. Hello HboGo.

  38. Kedar says:

    This is bullshit…. movie which I rated as 5 star now showing 57% like…. stupid change…..

  39. Mac says:

    Everyone saying that the star rating is actually to suggest that you would like it instead of other viewers ratings and being snobby about it are idiots. Amy Schumer was a 4.5 one night and the next was a 1 star. This is absolutely in response to that and I am gobsmacked that netflix let this change their system. I’m not mad netflix, just disappointed.

  40. Katrina says:

    This is really bad. The difference between a 3 star and a 4.5 star movie or show is very significant. “Come and find me” was a 3 star show yesterday. Today it’s a 97% match? What a load of bollocks. This is just their way of getting me to watch more of their lower-rated shows. This netflix change gets a one star and a thumbs down from me. I fell like I am back in a 1991 video store looking through all the shelves and having no clue what to watch. I’m going to have to resort to Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB again. This is a huge step backwards in technology.

  41. Jaybird says:

    Here’s the deal… (because it isn’t explained in this article.)
    The star rating you saw for any given show/movie was NOT an average of all the ratings of viewers. Think of it like a meter. The more stars, the more likely their algorithm predicted YOU SPECIFICALLY would like the program. It was essentially the same as the percent they show now. Nothing really changed except now we now Netflix has been lying to us for years.

    • Manuel says:

      That’s not true.

      Shows that had 2 stars, now have 80% match.

      • JM says:

        True or not… Netflix quoted, from CNN: “Netflix said in a promo video about the launch that the stars have been a “misunderstood hero.” They’ve always reflected what Netflix predicts a particular viewer will enjoy — and they’ve never represented an average user rating, the company said.”

  42. AmandaSue2 says:

    Sooooo, who came up with THIS idea? What about the movies or programs that are 2.5, 3 or 3.5 stars? Where do they fit in? They’re fun to rent or watch on a rainy Sunday afternoon, but you wouldn’t necessarily buy or watch again… you didn’t love it – you didn’t hate it, it was just okay. I don’t want you telling me if something is excellent or crap, or worth my time or not, based on a thumbs up or down. Maybe, just MAYBE, I feel like mediocre THAT day…how will I know if I wanna be brain dead for a couple hours, without a five star guideline? Keep the stars….

  43. torgo says:

    These percentages are now based on view history instead of actual ratings… so even if you watched something awful, your rating will think you liked it just because its in your history…. This new system is terrible. My profile was perfect before, which is why I’ve stuck with Netflix instead of amazon or hulu. Now, I see no reason to renew my sub if it’s not going to offer on-point recommendations.

  44. D. St James says:

    Actually, I couldn’t understand the % thing until I read this comment. It absolutely means nothing to me because it was wrong, wrong, wrong. What I did notice, however, as I paged through the TV shows and movies, what boring pieces of dreck everything seemed to be. I think I’m going to drop Netflix if this is what I have to look forward to. I guess I need the nuances of the star system. I’m also not sure I liked the way the offerings kept popping up in my face, in and out, in and out. It made me dizzy. It seemed to be a bit frantic, but compared to this I think I prefer it. I think the popping was why I didn’t realize how bad their offerings were. Plus, the star rating system always gave me a little hope. This gives me nothing.

    Why can’t somebody figure it out. That will leave me with Amazon only. Maybe YOUTUBE will be better.

  45. Chris says:

    This is idiotic. The so-called % match is absolutely not representative of what I may or may not enjoy. There are films I KNOW are terrible, yet are coming up as 85%+ match.
    I don’t need, or want, Netflix making nonsensical predictions. Either bring back the 5-star rating asap, or display how many thumbs up or down a movie received so I can make an educated decision as to whether its worth my time.

  46. Kaput says:

    This is the worse idea I have seen in a while (last one was Flixster). Dumbing down something which was great to appeal to more people is not the way to go to increase awareness. Is that the new approach for the FaceBook generation: Good-Bad?

    The world is not black and white, and is full of gray areas in the middle. That applies a lot to movies. Now I am forced to love something or to hate it. How are they going to know better what I like from 2 extreme views only.

    I used to do:
    1 – Hated it, did not finish it
    2 – Did not like, but hey, I gave it a chance to the end
    3 – Fine, was good for one time
    4 – Liked it, will watch again sometimes
    5 – I am buying it

    Maybe they are going to get more people voting, but I will not rate anymore the movies I am watching using this binary system.

    • jedi77 says:

      Yes, that is exactly the meaning of the star system.
      I have the exact same system in my head when grading.
      Thumbs up/down has none of that.
      This is the most blatant and pathetic dumbing down of something that was pretty damn simple in the first place.

  47. HumanWolfman says:

    This seems silly, honestly. If you can’t understand how a five-star rating works, you probably don’t have business watching television and should go back to middle school. “Thumbs up/down” is pretty low-effort and doesn’t seem to be a good way to determine tastes with any real accuracy.

  48. Bill B. says:

    What happens to all the ratings that one has already given films?

    • Todd Spangler says:

      Netflix says it will continue to factor in subscribers’ previous star ratings to suggest content.

  49. Holstein says:

    Is this in response to Amy Schumer’s horrific bomb?

    • Piggypigschumer says:

      Absolutely a reason. Everyone thumb that cow down!

      • ckcskfgwbtchetc says:

        What’s the point? With the stars it was a social thing, they’ve eliminated the social aspect of it which is ironic given recent trends with social media ect. The only person whom ‘thumbing down’ has any impact on is your own profile.
        I used to rate movies/shows as a way to express my distaste or appreciation for the content, if no one else can see it I don’t see the point. I’ve never gave a shat about Netflix recommendations, they’ve always been wrong and will continue to be wrong because unfortunately I’m extremely selective and cannot stand shitty television or movies.

    • Chucky says:

      LOL, hilarious conspiracy theory!

      • Tracy W says:

        I found the star ratings really helpful, 1-2 stars were always BAD, now a lot of the same 1-2 star shows are apparently over 60%. I don’t see a point to my using the thumbs system.
        I also notice a lot of the 1 star reviews have gone…

More Digital News from Variety