Published: 7th September 2021

Netflix will carry trusted UK age ratings for years to come

New phase of BBFC and Netflix partnership will see entertainment company carry trusted UK age ratings for years to come

  • Netflix is the first streamer to have 100% of its catalogue BBFC-certified.

  • Building on the successful pilot, BBFC and Netflix moves into long-term agreement for Netflix to generate BBFC ratings in-house.

  • Innovative industry partnership between regulator and streaming service brings UK families trusted age ratings and guidance, to help them choose content well.

  • The landmark partnership has been welcomed by Caroline Dinenage, Minister of State for Digital and Culture, and by children’s charities. 

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) and Netflix have moved into the next phase of their partnership, which will see Netflix carry BBFC age ratings and ratings information on its service for years to come. 

The new agreement follows a successful pilot phase, during which the innovative partnership - a first for the UK - between the streaming service and the regulator resulted in Netflix achieving 100% coverage of BBFC age ratings and content advice (‘ratings info’). 

The conclusion of the pilot phase and the move to a long-term partnership has been welcomed by Caroline Dinenage, Minister of State for Digital and Culture, and by children’s charities. 

Netflix applies BBFC Classification Guidelines standards to films and television shows, which the BBFC has set based on large-scale public opinion research and auditing ratings to ensure consistency. Netflix’s entire catalogue of original and acquired content now carries a BBFC age rating and a line of ratings information so that families can choose shows safe in the knowledge that everything they press play on is rated to trusted, BBFC standards which reflect UK expectations. This builds on Netflix’s wide range of parental controls including PIN-protected profiles, maturity filters, profile locks and viewing history, helping parents make the right viewing choices for their families. 

David Austin, Chief Executive of the BBFC, said: “Parents have been very clear that they want and expect online content to carry the same age rating it would carry offline, in the cinema or on DVD. Crucially for child protection, BBFC ratings guarantee that age classifications reflect UK parental and child expectations on issues such as sexual violence and drug use. Our innovative partnership with Netflix has proven that it is possible for streaming services to carry trusted BBFC age ratings on 100% of their content and will make a significant contribution to parents’ peace of mind and children’s wellbeing for years to come. We are calling on all other streaming services operating in the UK to follow Netflix's excellent example and work with us to give parents what they need.”

Jessica Stansfield, Director of Ratings at Netflix, said: “Our members are our number one priority. We’re committed to delivering an experience that doesn’t just meet, but exceeds their expectations, which is why we are proud to be the first and only streaming service to voluntarily carry BBFC age ratings on 100% of our catalogue, while our updated parental controls provide the tools parents need to make the right viewing choices for their family.”

Previous BBFC research has shown that parents react unfavourably at the prospect of streaming services applying ratings that do not reflect UK classification standards and therefore potentially allow children to access age-inappropriate content. A majority said they felt concerned (54%), while others felt angry (21%), nervous (16%) and confused (15%).

There is also confusion over generic age labels, with previous BBFC research also showing parents find descriptions like ‘caution’ or ‘guidance’ confusing and unhelpful when used on subscription streaming services. 

Caroline Dinenage, Minister of State for Digital and Culture, said: “We want parents and young people to be able to make informed choices about what content is appropriate for them to watch. The BBFC’s age ratings are well trusted and widely recognised, which is why I am pleased that this long-term agreement will see their ratings continue to be used across Netflix’s content for years to come.”

The new phase of the partnership has also been welcomed by children's charities. 

Will Gardner OBE, CEO at Childnet, said: “Young people love to use a wide range of streaming services, which is why it is so important that they, and the people who care for them, have access to trusted age ratings and content advice so they can make decisions about what to watch. This is not only important for parents' and carers’ peace of mind, but also for young people’s wellbeing and development.”

According to recent BBFC research, nearly nine in ten (88%) of parents find BBFC age ratings on Netflix useful in helping them to choose content well for their family.