LOS ANGELES (April 23, 2020) – New Parents Television Council research of Netflix reveals that nearly half of all programming designated as “Teen” by Netflix was rated either TV-MA (104 titles, or 40.8%) or R (23 titles, or 9.0%); and every single program that carried a TV-14 moniker included the harshest profanity.
In the PTC’s new report, “Teen-Targeted Broadcast TV Can Be Vulgar…But Stranger Things Are Happening On Netflix,” out of 11 program titles rated TV-14 by Netflix and for which VidAngel filtering data was available, every single program contained multiple uses of the “s-word” and almost every Netflix original program rated as appropriate for teens (TV-14) had at least one use of the “f-word.”
“Our findings clearly demonstrate that Netflix is marketing explicit content to children. This is deeply troubling news for families given that Netflix use has surged with quarantine. Explicit profanity like the ‘f-word’ and ‘s-word’ are nearly ubiquitous on Netflix’s Teen programming, revealing an apparent disconnect between what Netflix deems appropriate for teen viewers and what the average parent might consider appropriate,” said PTC President Tim Winter.
“Just last week Netflix announced that it has improved parental controls – something we advocated for – but these improvements do not protect children from harmful adult content if Netflix is circumventing the system by giving teen programming adult ratings and including the harshest profanity in even TV-14 rated programming.
“Either the content is being rated inaccurately, or there has been considerable ‘ratings creep’ with the criteria used to determine an age-based rating. Neither option allows parents to do their job effectively. And even more importantly, this reveals huge problems with the ratings systems since parents are told to rely on the content ratings to protect their children from harmful content.
“We believe this research must bring about wholesale reform to the entertainment industry-controlled ratings systems and their oversight. It is abhorrent that a TV-14 rating doesn’t mean the same thing on Netflix as it does on CBS, for example. The ratings systems must serve parents, not those who might directly profit from exposing children to explicit, adult-themed content. Additionally, it is past time for Netflix to stop marketing adult content to children and teens and urgently call upon the company to overhaul this aspect of its platform,” Winter concluded.
For this study, the PTC looked at the age-based rating for all Netflix programming listed in a “Teen” category or with a “Teen” designation as of April 6, 2020. Out of more than 3,600 category designations used by Netflix, 23 were identified as “teen” programming.
Although there is significant overlap within these 23 categories (i.e. titles that appear in more than one category), we identified 255 distinct programs or titles across all teen categories; and of those 255 distinct programs, 96 were labeled as “Netflix Originals.”
PTC further analyzed the program content – and specifically, the profanity within those programs – by overlaying content filtering data from the streaming video company VidAngel on all Netflix Originals for which filters were available. VidAngel content filters identify in specific detail every kind of explicit content that may be found in these programs.