SPECTRUM Consortium

Exposure to tobacco, alcohol and junk food imagery in original films from video-on-demand services

A new study describes the frequent use of alcohol, tobacco and high fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) food imagery in Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video original films in the UK.

05 March 2021

New research from the University of Nottingham has found that alcohol, tobacco and HFSS food imagery is common across original films from both Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video in the UK.

As a known risk factor for the uptake and regular use of these products in young people, the authors highlight the need for better regulation of such imagery in original content from video-on-demand (VOD) services.

Content prevalent across topics and channels

The study team conducted a content analysis of 11 original films released in the UK by Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video for alcohol, tobacco and junk food imagery.

The results, published in the Journal of Public Health, found alcohol content to be most prevalent, appearing in 42% of the 5 minute intervals coded. HFSS imagery appeared in 35%, and tobacco in 27%.

When comparing original films across platforms, the results showed that exposure was similar between Amazon Prime Instant Video and Netflix. This is despite Amazon Prime Instant Video being subject to generally stricter regulation imposed by Ofcom, indicating that these measures are not enough to reduce exposure to alcohol, tobacco and HFSS imagery.

Need for regulation

With the increasing popularity of VOD platforms among young adults, the authors emphasise the need for the regulation of tobacco, alcohol and HFSS imagery in original content in order to prevent youth exposure and limit future uptake.

Read the paper

Available from the Journal of Public Health