Entertainment ratings: How do retailers rate?

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If you want to know which flix’s tix made for major boffola at the box office, you’ll have to consult the entertainment trade press.  But a recent FTC “mystery shopper” survey offers other insights for your clients in the movie, music, or videogame industry.

It’s been 13 years since the FTC issued its first Report to Congress calling on the entertainment industry to be more vigilant in its marketing.  Specifically, the agency urged the industry to clearly and prominently disclose ratings information, to restrict the marketing of mature-rated products to children, and to restrict kids’ retail access to those products — tickets to R-rated movies, R-rated DVDs and unrated DVDs that were R-rated when released in theaters, CDs with a Parental Advisory Label for explicit content, and M-rated videogames, which means they may be suitable for persons age 17 and up.

But the FTC did much more than debut the report in 2000 and call it a wrap.  Every few years since then, the agency has conducted an undercover study, arranging for 13- to 16-year-olds unaccompanied by a parent to try to buy products rated or labeled by entertainment industry self-regulatory bodies as inappropriate for kids of that age. So what did the FTC find in its latest mystery shopper survey?

For movie tickets, roughly 25% of underage shoppers were able to buy a ticket to an R-rated movie, down from about 33% in 2010.

What about DVDs?  30% of underage shoppers were able to buy R-rated DVDs compared to 38% in 2010.  30% were able to buy unrated DVDs, down from 48% in the last survey.

For music, 47% of the underage shoppers were able to buy CDs with the Parental Advisory Label.  That’s down from 64% in 2010.

The video game figures remained unchanged, but with only 13% of underage shoppers able to buy M-rated videogames, that sector of the industry demonstrated the highest level of compliance.

Read the results to find out how national companies like AMC Entertainment, Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, Blockbuster, GameStop, Kmart, Marcus Theatres, Regal Entertainment Group, Target, Toys R Us, and Walmart fared.  

Looking for more on ratings from the parents' perspective?  The FTC's Entertainment Ratings page has resources for you.



Thanks for all the things you do. Money well spent.

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