In what may have been a response to a marked increase in negative ratings for their original content, Netflix has removed user reviews entirely. July 30 marked the final chance for fans to offer public criticism of shows like Orange Is The New Black, Master Of None, or Bojack Horseman, at least via the Netflix website.
Unlike competitor Amazon Prime Video - which recently announced a quality over quantity focused initiative - Netflix has been pumping out original content as often as possible since House Of Cards debuted in 2013. From original TV series to films to stand-up comedy specials, the streaming service has been attempting to drift further and further away from licensing pre-existing content by filling the site with its own material. The ease at which content creators have been attaining Netflix deals allows for new voices and stories to be heard that may have otherwise lacked a proper platform. Unfortunately, as the amount of Netflix originals has increased, the user ratings of those originals have been on a consistent downward trajectory.
Citing the excuse of "declining usage", Netflix removed their user reviews feature permanently in August, wiping out all past contributions from the site. In actuality, this move appears to be an attempt to conceal poor ratings – as suggested today by Cordcutting. Their report includes two graphs, one depicting Netflix's discernible and consistent rise in volume of original content, and another tracking how ratings on said content continued to trend negative. While correlation doesn't equal causation, the information presented is certainly intriguing.
Having produced many high quality shows and movies over the years, Netflix is arguably doing itself a continual disservice by pumping out a constant stream of what many deem low quality content. Now, with the removal of its user reviews, fans will have even less of an ability to discern the likes of the critically acclaimed Beasts Of No Nation from a movie like The Do-Over - an Adam Sandler vehicle that was widely regarded as awful.
In an attempt to create a large library of their own content and become less reliant on pre-existing content, Netflix is creating a deep forest of subpar material in which their higher quality content could easily get lost. Perhaps by spending more time on pre-production and opting to focus on quality over quantity, Netflix could change the culture of their service. Otherwise, disappointed subscribers may eventually find themselves drifting over to competing platforms.