Published: 12th July 2022

Annual Report for 2021 reveals increased presence of BBFC age ratings online

  • BBFC age ratings appear more consistently online across Video on Demand (VOD) and streaming platforms.

  • Collaboration with the UK’s Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) at an all-time high.

  • Establishment of the BBFC Youth Panel consolidates BBFC’s education and outreach activity.

Today, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) has published its Annual Report and Accounts for 2021. The Report outlines key activity and achievements by the organisation after another challenging year impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. With the demand for trusted UK BBFC age ratings stronger than ever before, the Report presents ambitious future goals for the business.

Last year, the BBFC classified 5,431 video submissions; 1,891 online submissions; 659 theatrical films and 104 music videos. At the close of 2021, 27 Video on Demand (VOD) platforms were licensed to display BBFC age ratings in the UK on a voluntary, best practice basis. Through these industry partnerships, the BBFC provided age ratings for over 17,673 pieces of VOD content, equating to 811,178 minutes. This included issuing new in-house classifications for packaged media that can be used online and for digital-only content, as well as the self-rating partnership with Netflix. Other streaming services and platforms working with the BBFC are Prime Video, Apple TV+, Sky Store, StarzPlay, Pluto TV, YouTube Movies, Rakuten TV, amongst others.

2021 represented the busiest year of the BBFC’s collaboration with the UK’s four Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) since its inception in 2013. Every year, hundreds of millions of websites are classified in accordance with BBFC standards, with mobile networks restricting access by children using mobile internet services to any website that would be classified 18 under the Mobile Classification Framework. Working hand-in-hand with the Mobile Network Operators to protect young people from viewing harmful content, the BBFC adjudicated on 97 websites last year, placing 33 websites behind adult filters. 

The Report also shines a light on the organisation’s successful ongoing partnership with Netflix. The long-term agreement between the BBFC and Netflix means that UK families will continue to see trusted BBFC age ratings on all Netflix content for years to come. The increase in online age ratings is in line with BBFC research that showed that 91% of parents and 95% of teens want to see the same age ratings that they know and trust from cinema and DVD/Blu-ray packaging applied on video on demand (VOD) and streaming platforms. 

Additional key insights from the BBFC’s Annual Report and Accounts include: 

  • 15 was the most common age rating across cinema, physical media and online, with the BBFC classifying 3,041 pieces of content with the age rating. 

  • Discussion of classification and compliance processes, spotlighting an array of high-profile and independent film releases at each age rating category.

  • Findings from research commissioned, including attitudes towards strong and very strong language and the classification of racism and discrimination in films and TV.

  • Strength of partnerships with the industry, charities, and external organisations.

  • Creation of PSHE Association accredited resources for Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 4 learners, as well as wider education and outreach activity.

  • Establishment of the BBFC Youth Panel comprising fourteen young people from across the UK, aged 16-19. The panel works in close collaboration with the BBFC to provide feedback on key classification issues, ensuring that we are meeting the needs of young people. 

  • Recruitment of five new members to the Advisory Panel on Children’s Viewing, contributing to discussions about the Youth Panel; age ratings on VOD services; and the publication of the draft Online Safety Bill.

David Austin, Chief Executive of the BBFC, said: “After another difficult start to the year with COVID-19 restrictions, I am proud of everything we have achieved in 2021 to help parents and families choose content well. Alongside the wider recovery of the cinema industry, it has been especially encouraging to see a significant rise in our trusted age ratings online. Our research shows that UK families want to see the same ratings that they recognise from their local cinema when watching films and TV shows online, so it is reassuring that platforms are working with us to ensure this demand is met. Now in our 110th year, we continue to deliver more of our trusted and well-understood age ratings from cinemas to streaming platforms across the UK to help families choose content that’s right for them.”

Read the full 2021 Annual Report and Accounts.

Annual Report and Accounts 2021

Read the report

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Annual Report and Accounts 2021 Infographic

Explore the key findings from this year's report

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