View Finder: Thumbs down for Netflix’s new ratings system?

Nick Broughall 17 March 2017 NEWS

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And will recutting shows for mobile be a good or a bad thing?

Netflix appears to have made its first serious misstep with its Marvel partnership. Iron Fist was always going to be the toughest of the Defenders shows to get off the ground, but the early reviews are less than stellar.

Perhaps that's why this week we're also hearing word that Netflix is planning on overhauling its internal review system, doing away with the good old fashioned five star system for a simpler "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" system, as told by The Verge.

To be fair to Netflix, the move has been on the cards for a while now, with beta testers using the new system for months. Netflix claims that there was a 200% higher chance of somebody leaving a review with the simpler thumbs up/down system than the more precise five star option.

The intent changes as well. When users leave a rating out of five, it's more of a critique on the program they've just watched. In a thumbs up / thumbs down world, users are instead trying to improve the personalisation results for themselves, rather than others.

For the vast majority of Netflix streamers, the change isn't likely to influence their decision to rank stuff one way or the other. But for the couch-bound critic, the thumbs down method isn't likely to gather any favour.

The new rating system will roll out globally in April, so if you like your shows to be graded on a scale of one to five, you should probably start reviewing your Netflix shows tonight when Iron Fist drops, if it's not too late already.

Mixing up mobile

Netflix never does like to sit still, and so it's no surprise that this week the company is upsetting more than just people who enjoy 5 star ratings. The streaming giant has also ruffled the feathers of mobile streamers with the news that it is keen to recut its shows specifically for smaller devices.

The idea, at least from Netflix's point of view and as reported by The Verge, is that the viewing experience is a bit different on mobile, So Netflix wants to experiment with things like larger subtitles and brighter scenes so you can actually see Matt Murdock destroying the kidnappers in the dark hallway in the second episode of DareDevil, even if you're on a train and the sun is reflecting off your phone's screen.

If those changes are all that happens, then I'm all for it. There was no specific mention of cropping in or otherwise modifying the content, but that would obviously change how people feel about it.

There's nothing quite so frustrating as watching a movie on a plane and all the best scenes are cut out with nothing you can do about it. Hopefully Netflix doesn't go down this path.

Unless of course they manage to recut The Phantom Menace and kill off Jar Jar, in which case I think anybody could be persuaded.

This week in streaming

Iron Fist arrives tonight. I don't care that it's been fairly poorly reviewed so far – I'm still a massive fan of what Marvel has done with Netflix, and this is the last taste we get before The Defenders mini series drops later in the year.

If you're not on board with Iron Fist, then why not take a stroll down the path of the dragon with these 10 other martial arts epics.


Each week, View Finder rounds up the latest news in streaming TV and movies for Australians.

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