BBFC statistics reflect increased demand for BBFC age ratings on VoD content and greater protection for children using mobile devices.
In 2015 the BBFC classified 983 films for theatrical distribution, a rise of 2.7% compared to 2014. For the second year in a row, more films were classified 15 than 12A, with 383 films classified at 15 and 321 at 12A.
As well as an age rating, every film classified is given detailed BBFCinsight guidance, available on the BBFC website and free apps, which enables the public (particularly parents) to know when a film is suitable for them and their family. This is particularly helpful at the advisory categories of U, PG and 12A, where 2015 saw a number of high profile releases including Star Wars: The Force Awakens (12A) and Inside Out (U).
David Austin, Chief Executive, BBFC said: "In 2015 we saw our range of services continue to diversify, reflecting public expectation for the same trusted guidance available for film and DVD/Blu-ray, to be similarly available online. We worked closely with the digital home entertainment industry to bring even more age ratings to VoD platforms and expanded our work with Mobile Network Operators in a new partnership with EE. Mobiles are useful for families that need to keep in touch and the EE 'Strict' setting, based on our PG rating, gives parents peace of mind that the mobile device they give to their child is safe and that protections are in place to help prevent their child seeing unsuitable content."
Alongside cinema releases, 1,143 hours of online content was classified for exclusive VoD release, with the BBFC receiving 74.5% more submissions in 2015 compared to 2014. This rapid growth demonstrates an appetite for BBFC classification guidance online. BBFC research reflected this expectation among families for BBFC age rating guidance when choosing a film or series to watch on major VoD platforms such as Netflix, Amazon and iTunes. In 2015 85% of parents said it was important to have consistent classifications both online and offline, while three quarters of parents want to link parental controls to BBFC classifications and for more platforms to carry age ratings and trusted BBFC content advice.
A key improvement in protecting younger children online during 2015 was the appointment of the BBFC in March 2015 as the voluntary regulator of EE’s ‘Strict’ setting. Under this new service, the BBFC determines what website content accessed via EE’s mobile network, is suitable for younger children, in line with the BBFC’s PG standard. Using the ‘Strict’ setting, parents are able to restrict their children’s viewing to safe and appropriate content, suitable for under 12s. The BBFC also provides a free appeals and adjudication service in relation to individual cases of purported over- and under-blocking.