Amazon Prime Video is going to make it easier to control your kids

A simpler, more recognisable rating system is good news for parents and caregivers

BBFC film ratings
(Image credit: BBFC)

Amazon Prime Video has some good news for parents and caregivers: it's signed up to the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) to produce age ratings for its content. That means Amazon's own in-house content will use the same classification guidelines and labelling we're used to seeing in cinemas and in some other streaming services, such as Apple TV+.

The agreement means that the BBFC will work with Amazon to adapt their rating approach to match the BBFC's classification standards and guidelines, providing support and guidance so Amazon's trust and safety people can be confident that they're doing what other broadcasters, producers and streamers are doing too. The BBFC already works with 29 video streaming and video on demand services in the UK including Apple TV+, Rakuten TV, Sky Store and YouTube Movies.

What's the difference between Amazon's ratings and the BBFC ratings?

At the moment, Amazon has its own rating system for a lot of its Amazon Prime Video content. Amazon calls them Maturity Ratings, and there are five levels: Kids, which is suitable for everybody; older kids, which is recommended for children aged 7 or older; teens, which naturally enough means 13-plus; young adults, which is 16 or older; and adults, which is 18-plus.

Where things get a little confusing is that Amazon uses the BBFC ratings for content it's bought in – so for example I'm looking at a few films just now and the Amazon-created ones have Maturity Ratings but other studios' movies use BBFC ones. And while the Amazon ratings are very close to the BBFC ratings, they don't completely match.

Amazon's Kids rating maps directly to the BBFC Universal (U) rating and its Adults is the same as a BBFC 18. But the other ratings are slightly out of sync – so Amazon's Kids is seven-plus but the BBFC's Parental Guidance (PG) is recommended for eight and up; Amazon's Teens starts at 13 but the equivalent BBFC rating is a 12, or 12A's 12 unless accompanied by an adult; Young Adults is for sixteen-plus but the BBFC equivalent is a 15. 

Amazon doesn't have or need an equivalent to the R18 rating, which is for explicit and legally restricted content that can only be shown in specially licensed cinemas or shown in licensed sex shops.

Simplifying the ratings and sticking with one classification system makes sense, reduces confusion and should make it easier for parental control configurations too. And the BBFC reviews its classifications every four years to ensure that they're still doing the job they're supposed to do, so adopting this system means your Amazon choices will always reflect the current industry standards.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (