More than a Like
In the beginning, Netflix would let you rate the content you watched using a five-star system.
But in 2017, they chose to abandon that rating method in favour of the current "Thumbs Up / Thumbs Down" system used today.
Why? Apparently, the up/down system collected more ratings, and according to a former Netflix product manager, "a 5-star system can be too overwhelming of a question for users."
When I read about that reasoning, I thought to myself, "Too overwhelming? Really?!? But a Thumbs-up/down rating system is far less accurate! Why would they have done this?"
Well, it took five years, but it seems Netflix has realized thumbs up / down has its limitations.
The streaming giant recently introduced a third option you can choose for content you feel goes beyond a mere "Like": "Love this!", indicated by a double thumbs-up.*
In a recent blog post, they wrote, "We’ve learned over time that these feelings can go beyond a simple like or dislike... Providing an additional way to tell us when you’re really into something means a profile with recommendations that better reflect what you enjoy.”
Let's read that again: "feelings can go beyond a simple like or dislike."
If there was an annual "Obvious Award", that "insight" would most certainly be a contender for this year's big prize.
But from a marketing perspective, I'll go one step further: "like" and "dislike" can essentially be considered neutral feelings, because in most cases they're not strong enough to mean anything significant.
When an actor you like comes out with a new film, you see it when you get around to it.
When an actor you love comes out with a new film, you see it on opening weekend.
I like Oh Henry! Bars, but I'll never choose one over a Crunchie... because I LOVE those!
I dislike going to pick up my pizza, but I HATE paying delivery fees!
You get the idea.
Gene Simmons, the bassist and co-lead singer of KISS known for his marketing savvy, was once quoted as saying, "People either love KISS or hate us with all of their guts, and that’s the way we like it."
He didn't say, "They either like us or dislike us... one of those two things for sure."
The best brands evoke strong reactions.
And so does the best content on a streaming service.
I'm glad Netflix has realized their rating system should reflect that.
* I noticed the "Love this" button almost immediately after it was launched because I rate every title I watch: I watch SO MANY MOVIES I sometimes forget if I've seen a film or not (especially since Netflix keeps "optimizing" the thumbnails and messing with my recall), so when I see I've rated a film, it tells me I've already seen it and I move on to something else.