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What Netflix Ratings Really Mean & How They Work

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Stephanie MialkiGuest Blogger
December 07, 2016 · 2.9k Views

netflix ratings

Source: VentureBeat

Many people assume that the star-rating on each Netflix movie is simply the average rating given by all of the other Netflix users out there. I mean, it makes sense, right? That’s how most other things in the world are rated, afterall. It turns out, though, that this is actually not the case with Netflix. In reality, several different factors play into the ratings that you see on Netflix movies and shows.

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Where do Netflix ratings come from?

netflix ratings

Source: Anthony and Kayla Schaefer's Blog

Believe it or not, the ratings come from reviews given by viewers who are similar to you, in terms of viewing interests. In other words, the ratings that you see on Netflix movies are actually customized for you. The rating of a film or show comes from what similar users think of the film or show, and not what the general population of Netflix thinks. Therefore, the ratings that you see on certain Netflix movies may be completely different than the ratings that other people see on the same movies.

For example, My Little Pony may only be rated one star on your account, but could be three or four stars on somebody else’s account, simply because they have children that like to watch similar shows or movies.

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How do the ratings and recommendations work?

netflix recommendations

Source: Hollywood Reporter

The way it all works is actually pretty simple. First, Netflix groups all of its users with similar tastes together. Then, each piece of data that Netflix receives about its users and their preferences feeds directly into Netflix’s recommendation algorithm. As explained right on Netflix’s website, the recommendation algorithm takes the following factors into consideration:

  • Genres of movies and TV shows that are available

  • Your streaming history

  • Previous ratings you’ve made

  • The combined ratings of all similar Netflix members

Each of these factors helps to determine what users see when they log into their own personal Netflix accounts. Let’s face it -- did you really think everybody saw the genre “Critically-acclaimed emotional drug movie” when they signed into their accounts? I think it’s safe to assume that Netflix has quite a few customization tricks up its sleeve.


The main point here is that Netflix is simply trying to make its users as happy and content as possible. By gearing specific content toward specific users, they are more likely to provide users with content that they will find most enjoyable. And by customizing their movie and show ratings, they are providing users with opinions that they will actually care about. This, in turn, benefits Netflix by keeping users glued to their screens and watching movies and TV series for hours on end. It’s a win-win for both Netflix and those who love to “Netflix and chill.”

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stephaniemialki profile picture
Stephanie Mialki is a mommy of two under two, a fitness enthusiast, and a digital marketing guru. She spends all of her spare time….oh wait, what spare time? She has a passion for business building and has successfully assisted more than 20 entrepreneurs start their own companies.

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