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Introducing New Zealand age ratings and warnings to streaming services

The movies and shows that you watch on commercial video on-demand (streaming) services like Netflix, Neon and Disney will soon display New Zealand age ratings and content warnings to help you decide what to watch.

This page provides an overview of what’s changing and has links to information like the legislation, public submissions on the changes and how New Zealand classification labels work.

Providing clear and consistent consumer information that works for New Zealanders

Right now New Zealanders have a tough time working out whether movies and shows on streaming platforms are suitable for themselves and their tamariki (children) to view.

That’s because consumer information is inconsistent across these platforms and is often in a format that’s unfamiliar to New Zealanders. For example you might see the rating “PG” (familiar), “7+” (unfamiliar) – or no rating at all.

Content warnings for high impact content like suicide, self-harm and sexual violence are often inadequate – and these are issues that New Zealanders have told us they want to be warned about.

Streaming services have fallen into a gap in New Zealand’s classification system, which means these platforms and content have not been automatically covered by the same law as cinemas and DVDs.

That’s why the Government has passed the Film, Videos, and Publications Classification (Commercial Video On-Demand) Amendment Act. The Act requires providers of streaming services (listed in Schedule 4 of the Act) to display approved New Zealand age ratings and content warnings for all content available to New Zealand viewers.

Learn more about these changes

There are also related changes being made to how New Zealand’s classification system is funded

New Zealanders are watching more streamed content than ever

In 2019 we carried out a nationally representative online survey to understand which paid services New Zealanders are using to watch movies and shows online, how many of us are using them, and how often. This includes subscription-based streaming services like Netflix and pay-per-view services like iTunes. Here’s what we found:

  • Around three quarters of New Zealanders (77%) have used a paid online service to watch movies or shows.
  • Around one-third of us regularly use these services.
  • Viewers tend to be younger, but people of all ages use these services. 93% of New Zealanders aged 18-39 have used a paid online service like Netflix or iTunes for entertainment media.

Please note that these numbers may have changed since the survey was completed. There are also new streaming services available to New Zealand viewers.