Netflix introduced a new ratings system in April: Instead of letting you rate movies and shows from one to five stars, Netflix now just wants to know “thumbs up, or thumbs down?”
As we’ve written about, Netflix’s new ratings system is not only confusing, it’s fundamentally flawed.
That said, the likelihood Netflix starts from scratch here is slim to none. The company has invested significant resources into this new system, and Netflix likely has some statistics that support how well the new system works. Still, there are several small ways Netflix could supplement the current setup to make the experience so much better:
1. Connect with other internet services like Rotten Tomatoes or IMDB for more ratings/information.
- Rotten Tomatoes
I understand Netflix is invested in its own algorithm, but having “a second opinion,” so to speak, would go a long way in tailoring the user experience – and even improving Netflix’s own data. I would love to be able to quickly consult Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB, for instance, since they’re widely-used and generally reliable in terms of recommendations. Netflix would get brownie points if it could let other ratings services connect as well. (I personally still read Roger Ebert’s reviews site, for instance, and would love to see how they reviewed any titles available on Netflix.)
2. Let me <em>choose</em> to watch a trailer.
Netflix recently added an auto-play feature where, if you’re hovering over a title, it will automatically play a trailer or teaser for that movie or show. Trailers can be really helpful in deciding what to watch, but I don’t always want to watch a trailer. And Netflix’s implementation can really get annoying, since there’s no option to turn off the sound as it auto-plays and trying to read the description before the trailer starts is an anxiety-inducing experience that’s unnecessary.
3. Let me choose to see a summary or not.
Sometimes Netflix descriptions aren’t always subtle about the plot. Sometimes, I’d rather be surprised, or choose to read about it if I choose.
4. Let me customize my home screen with the categories I’m actually interested in.
One of the more well-known “secrets” about Netflix is its so-called “hidden categories,” which you can only enable while watching Netflix on a computer since activating them requires changing the URL in certain ways. But compared to the typical categories Netflix shows you, these categories sound so much more specific and interesting. Here are some samples:
- Adult Animation Classic Foreign Movies Tearjerkers Deep Sea Horror Movies Romantic Independent Movies Basketball Movies
The full list of “hidden” Netflix categories is even more comprehensive – there are over 76,000 specific genres available through Netflix. You can check out the full list here. And so, if people can’t choose what specific movies Netflix suggests, at least let them choose which sections are featured. More options, in terms of deciding your unique user experience, would go a long way in terms of satisfaction.
5. Unhide one of Netflix’s best features: browsing movies based on actors and actresses.
Have you ever seen a movie with a certain actor, then suddenly wanted to see everything they’ve done?
That’s happened to me on several occasions, where I’ve subsequently binged Robert De Niro and Domhnall Gleeson movies after seeing one standout film they’re in, but Netflix could better take advantage of this habit with a simple tweak. Netflix actually does let you browse movies based on an actor or actress, but you have to manually search for that person’s name to see their movies or shows.
Netflix should either put this feature in a separate tab – letting people create a “Favorite Actors” list where you can freely browse their content on Netflix – or tie this feature into every movie or show, so people can quickly click on any member of the cast to see all their available works.