Netflix ditching stars for thumbs-up/down system, planning to stream mobile content in HDR quality

Netflix is abandoning star ratings in favor of a binary thumbs-up/down system set to start rolling out in a few weeks, Fast Company reported Friday. Variety says Netflix is also planning to stream content in High Dynamic Range (HDR) quality on supported mobile devices. HDR video offers a more dynamic and richer range of colors, brighter whites and deeper blacks. Lastly, they’re experimenting with mobile-specific cuts of movies and TV shows tailored to viewing on smartphone screens.

The stars are fading at Netflix

Stars are sooo yesterday and thumbs have now become “the language of the global internet,” says Netflix’s Vice President Todd Yellin. The new thumbs-up/down icon resembling Facebook’s liking feature will be displayed under each title on the service.

It should replace Netflix’s five-star rating system as early as next month. Stars will still exist on movies and TV shows that you’ve already rated. That said, Netflix members will no longer be given the option to rate with stars when the new system launches.

Yellin explains:

The new system really projects what you think you want to tell the world. But we want to move to a system where it’s really clear, when members rate, that it’s for them and to keep on making the Netflix experience better and better.

Netflix has been testing the new system for the past few months with hundreds of thousands of new members around the world. When the data came in, they realized that ratings on the service went up 200 percent with thumbs.

At one point, Netflix had more than ten billion five-star ratings as over half of its members had rated more than fifty movies and TV shows. “We made ratings less important because the implicit signal of your behavior is more important,” Yellin said.

The streaming company will be introducing another feature designed to communicate to the viewer, in percentages, how good a fit a title is for them. Titles will less that a fifty percent match won’t display a match rating, however.

Mobile streaming in HDR quality

Currently, Both Netflix and Amazon Video stream video in HDR to televisions that support the standard, with Netflix prepping to offer mobile content for viewing on supported devices in HDR quality in the near future.

An executive said at an event at Dolby Laboratories and Netflix headquarters in San Francisco that the new original series, “Iron Fist”, is being shot natively in HDR quality.

It’s unclear if iPhone 8 will support HDR streams, but Netflix is betting that the the 10-bit HDR10 open standard will be adopted by major smartphone vendors in 2017. Both LG’s latest G6 flagship and the recently launched Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 with AMOLED display (pictured above) are the first mobile devices to support videos in HDR quality.

Mobile-specific cuts

As per Netflix’s Chief Product Officer, Neil Hunt, they’re toying with the idea of mobile-specific cuts of the Netflix original movies and TV shows. “It’s not inconceivable that you could take a master copy and make a different cut for mobile,” he said.

Thus far, Netflix hasn’t been delivering different video versions for different devices, but “it’s something we will explore over the next few years.” In India and certain Asian countries, mobile screens are “the majority consumption device,” said Hunt.

It’s been about a year since Netflix became available globally although the service has yet to launch in China and a few other international markets.

Source: Variety, Fast Company