Where Are My Ratings, Netflix??

Netflix Canada screws up royally

Netflix Canada screws up royally

I, like many Canadians, enjoy Netflix. Sure, it’s lacking titles that the superior American version has, but it’s a cheap (how could you go wrong for $8 a month?) convenient way to watch movies. I also enjoy the Netflix ratings system. It’s one of the best ratings systems I’ve come across, and it’s suggestions for me are usually spot on. In short: Netflix, and it’s rating system, is pretty great. Sadly, most companies, including Netflix, don’t buy into the old adage: “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

The other day I logged into my Netflix and was shocked to find that the star rating system was gone. I thought maybe it was a browser issue at first, so I tried numerous browsers, deleted my cookies, etc. Nothing worked. My ratings were still missing. Something definitely wasn’t right here, so I live chatted with a Netflix tech expert. He found it odd that my ratings were gone as well and told me to sit tight while he looked into it. Five minutes later he came back with the news: Netflix was phasing out it’s star ratings in favour of Facebook ‘likes’. Seriously?

I had heard nothing of this. No emails sent out to customers, no announcements made, nothing. Netflix seems to be sneaking this change in. Why? I’m not quite sure. Is this only for Netflix Canada? No idea. There seems to be hardly any info out there about this change, and that’s kind of disturbing.

Now, let’s just set aside the fact that Facebook is forcefully asserting itself more and more in our online lives – and the uncomfortable (spying!) facts that come along with that. Let’s just focus on rating films in general.

Films are an art form, and as such they aren’t merely ‘liked’ or ‘not liked’: there are degrees to which one enjoys a movie. I can say I ‘liked’ Chronicle, an underrated teen sci-fi action film, but do I like it on the same level as, say, Fargo? The answer is a resounding ‘no’. Netflix, however, would seem to say that yes, they are on the same level – you either like or don’t like them. This is just ridiculous, and it makes me question Netflix as a company that cares about cinema. Movie criticism isn’t black and white, it’s nuanced. You might argue that the general public aren’t film critics, but that’s not true. Everyone who sees a film is a critic. When you’re talking to your friends about a movie you just saw, do you only say that you ‘liked’ it? Or do you say you “liked it, but…” or “I loved it!”? Sure their points might not be as well informed as professional film critics, but they still have points – and thoughts.

This ‘like or don’t like’ system that Netflix is rolling out is overly simplistic and, frankly, a little insulting. You don’t think people can like things to differing degrees? That the general public are capable of nuanced thought? Maybe this never crossed the staff at Netflix’s mind. Maybe this is just merely a way for them to generate more money through sharing personal information via Facebook. The later is probably true, which makes it all the more sad: Netflix didn’t even consider its customers.

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5 thoughts on “Where Are My Ratings, Netflix??

  1. Very disappointing choice on the part of Netflix. After putting lots of money into building a good rating and recommendation system, they seem to be discarding it for a much less useful and more intrusive solution.

  2. Netflix Sucks. I hate it because my ratings gone. So I don’t use Netflix anymore. There are other services that respect their customers.

  3. I’m really upset that the star ratings have disappeared when we hover over a movie title. I’ve complained to Netflix several times but no luck at getting them back. We found the star ratings worked well for us but the other great advantage was that once we’d rated a movie the stars turned yellow. We find after we’ve watched a couple hundred movies we don’t necessarily remember the titles of the ones we’ve watched. However, if the stars were yellow we knew we’d watched it and could look for a different movie. I don’t understand why Netflix couldn’t leave the star rating system and add the Facebook “Likes” as well.

  4. This is extremely disappointing news. I found their recommendation and rating ‘guesstimation’ algorithm to be quite useful, especially as I continually fed it new data. I’m not a Facebook user anymore and never will be again, so this new system of ‘likes’ is a cause for concern. I already felt Netflix streaming was slipping when their focus shifted to television audiences, and this news seems to reinforce where their priorities are as a company. I think it might be time to cancel my subscription. Cinema lovers would do well to check out MUBI. Hopefully their service offerings continue to expand.

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