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Netflix Ditches 5 Star Rating System, Is Amy Schumer to Blame?

By Ryan Scott — March 17th, 2017

This past week, Netflix officially debuted their new Amy Schumer stand-up comedy hour The Leather Special. And it was instantaneously met with negative reviews. Some claim that Schumer's biggest critics got on Netflix and purposely drove down the rating of the special, some without even watching it. Schumer herself blames the 'Alt-Right' for sabotaging her latest effort. Now, it is being announced that Netflix is ditching its five-star rating system for something much more streamlined, a rating system that owes itself to the legacy of the late Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert. Did Amy Schumer have anything to do with this new rating system? Probably not. But once in place, it will certainly help her Leather Special find a more appropriate audience.

For about as long as we have been able to stream stuff on Netflix, we have been able to give the titles available on the streaming service a rating. That rating has been based on a classic five-star system. If you like that way of rating titles you enjoy watching on Netflix, get ready to kiss it goodbye because Netflix is changing things up quite a bit. In the near future, it will be a simple thumbs-up/thumbs-down rating system.

As reported by The Verge, Netflix will be changing their rating system starting this April. Though, the report does note that some users will still be seeing the classic five-star system for a little while even after the new system is rolled out. According to Netflix vice president of product Todd Yellin, the idea of a five-star system is a little outdated and that is why the change is coming. Here is what he had to say.

"Five stars feels very yesterday now. We're spending many billions of dollars on the titles we're producing and licensing, and with these big catalogs, that just adds a challenge. Bubbling up the stuff people actually want to watch is super important."

This is something Netflix has been planning for a while now, as the streaming service was beta testing a thumbs system last year. Apparently, that worked well for them and in the very near future, that is how you will be rating titles that you like or dislike on Netflix. Going with a simple "good or bad" rating system probably has some drawbacks, but for Netflix, it makes way more sense. At least in terms of them collecting data. Here is how Todd Yellin explained it.

"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? What you do versus what you say you like are different things."

Netflix is pouring literally billions of dollars into original content these days, as opposed to focusing almost totally on licensing content. This year, outside of a bunch of new TV shows and even a good handful of movies, they are releasing a new comedy special every single week. One of their big-ticket items was Amy Schumer's new special, Amy Schumer: The Leather Special but that didn't quite go over so well. The reviews for the special have been truly abysmal and with a five-star system, that will really hurt something like this special. With a simple thumbs-up/thumbs-down, Amy Schumer's special might do a little better in the ratings and moving forward, that could make more sense for Netflix. Granted, they have had this plan in place long before the negative reaction to this special, so it most likely isn't directly to blame for the change. That said, situations like this are probably why this new system is going to be implemented.

In addition to the new thumbs system, Netflix is also going to be making their recommendations a bit more personal. Todd Yellin said that the streaming service will also be including percentages next to titles based on how likely the user is to enjoy them. This will be very personalized and will reportedly be similar to how dating sites use percentage matches. It is hard to know if this will be better or worse yet, but the change is coming. Plan accordingly, Netflix users.

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