Today the Parents Television Council released a study of Streaming Video On Demand (SVOD) services and Over-The-Top streaming delivery devices called “Over-The-Top or a Race to the Bottom: A Parent’s Guide to Streaming Video.”
The study found that families are not well served in the current streaming video marketplace, though increasingly SVOD services are banking on family subscribers for stability and growth.
On most platforms and devices, children have easy access to adult content, in part, because the parental controls are lax or non-existent; and ratings are inconsistently used, leaving many parents in the dark about content.
The PTC research also found that the majority of original streaming content was rated TV-MA (mature audiences only). On Netflix, 65% of original/exclusive TV programming is rated TV-MA, while 1% is rated G, and 8% rated PG.
While most streaming services do offer plenty of content for young children, there is a severe lack of original general audience or family programming across the services. If your child is too old for ‘Bubble Guppies’ but not yet old enough for ‘Stranger Things,’ most services have little to offer. That, despite the fact that programming for families could be exceptionally profitable, as animated films are for the movie industry.
The PTC found:
- Among top SVOD providers, there is no consistency in the application or visibility of aged-based content ratings.
- While Hulu and Netflix both provide the option of a separate user profile for child viewers, there is nothing to stop a child from switching over to an adult profile with either service. Amazon does not provide a separate child user profile option.
- Netflix offers categories of content that viewers may find offensive, which often feature pornographic titles and cover art, and which often appear in close proximity to child-friendly categories – with no clear or obvious way of eliminating those categories from menu screens.
- Likewise, a child viewer using Amazon Prime Video may need to scroll past adult-themed titles and cover art on promoted original content in order to access child-friendly content.
- None of the SVOD services offer family plans which would allow parents to block all explicit title at all times and across all devices. A portion of the user’s subscription fee is going to underwrite explicit content.
- Among streaming devices, Chromecast was most limited, but that limited functionality gives parents a high degree of control over the content streamed over the device.
- AppleTV alone among the devices we looked at, applies parental controls to music and podcasts, as well as video content.
- Roku offers PIN-controlled restrictions to the channel store, and V-Chip-type content control on Antenna-TV input, but no additional content restrictions for SVOD services.
We are asking the SVOD and OTT industries to better serve families by using some consistent form of age-based content ratings, and work to improve parental controls in order to keep kids from accessing adult content, in addition to offering more family content for kids of all age groups.