Netflix ratings have always been met with some scepticism, given the secretive way they have been calculated. Fans will notice these coming into play when they turn on their Netflix and notice certain films are ranked in the Top 10 of films that day. However, the new system may make it even more complicated for people to work out what is actually doing well on the platform.

What was the old Netflix ratings system?

When Netflix came into play, their ratings system was developed based on what people watched, and how much of it they consumed.

For example, if someone just accidentally flicked onto a series for a few seconds, it would not be counted as a “watch” and therefore would not fall into the ratings.

Instead, households (or accounts) needed to have watched at least 70 percent of something in order for it to count in the ratings, which means fans would need to watch an hour and 24 minutes of a two hour movie for it to hit the ratings.

Similarly, of a TV series, fans needed to have watched 70 percent of an episode of a series for it to count in the ratings system.

This is a little strange, as an entire series would appear even if fans had only watched 21 minutes of one half an hour episode.

As a result of these ratings, movies like Adam Sandler’s Murder Mystery had the biggest opening weekend in Netflix history, as well as movies like Bird Box, even though fans may not have got quite to the end of the slightly mad plots.

However, those ratings have changed again, and they are likely to invite even more scepticism.

What is the new Netflix ratings system?

In a letter sent to Netflix shareholders, the firm revealed the change in ratings, which is aimed to make things fairer between TV series and movies.

Due to their decision to expand original content, they have changed the way they share it to highlight and better demonstrate popularity.

The letter reads: “Given that we now have titles with widely varying lengths – from short episodes (e.g. Special at around 15 minutes) to long films (e.g. The Highwaymen at 132 minutes), we believe that reporting households viewing a title based on 70 percent of a single episode of a series or of an entire film, which we have been doing, makes less sense.

“We are now reporting on households (accounts) that chose to watch a given title.

“Our new methodology is similar to the BBC iPlayer in their rankings based on ‘requests’ for the title, ‘most popular’ articles on the New York Times which include those who opened the articles, and YouTube view counts.

“This way, short and long titles are treated equally, levelling the playing field for all types of our content including interactive content, which has no fixed length.”

In layman’s terms, this means they will be basing whether a film or TV show has been watched based on its being “chosen,” which will be decided if it has been viewed for two minutes.

Two minutes of a film or TV programme will show it has been chosen by an account, which will mean, as the letter continues, that there will be 35 percent uplift of original content.

The example they give is of Our Planet, which gained 33million views when based on fans watching 70 percent of one episode.

Now, the series has gained 45million views based on their new metric, and they think their content will likely benefit from the change.

Similarly, new movie A Fall From Grace has ranked highly since its release, despite it not necessarily being the highest quality.

Of course, this is likely not to change much for fans, but it may mean the view of Netflix’s ratings may now be taken with an extra large pinch of salt.

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