Video on demand - consumer information

Ofcom regulates editorial content (programming) on UK 'video on demand' services. Previously our co-regulator, the Authority for Television on Demand (ATVOD), led on this.

Video on demand services include TV catch up and online film services. The platform these on demand services are delivered on does not matter, so services on connected TVs, apps on mobile phones and programmes you view through set top boxes may be regulated.

A list of the video on demand programme services we regulate can be found here. Ofcom does not regulate radio on demand services.

What rules do on demand programme services have to follow?

Regulated on demand programme services must ensure that:

Protecting the under-eighteens:

  • specially restricted material" (which has been or would be classified in the R18 category by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC)) or material which might seriously impair the physical, mental or moral development of under 18s is made available in a way which secures that under 18s will not normally see or hear it;
  • prohibited material" (which would be refused a classification by the BBFC) does not appear;

Incitement to hatred:

  • they do not contain any material likely to incite hatred based on race, sex, religion or nationality; and

Commercial references in programmes

  • they comply with rules about product placement and sponsorship.

If you have a complaint about editorial content (i.e. programming) on a regulated video on demand programme service, please contact the on demand service provider. A list of these and how to contact them can be found here. If you are dissatisfied with the response you receive, or you can't find the video on demand service provider on the list, you can complain to Ofcom using our on demand programme service complaint form.

There are also rules about advertising you can see when you view a video on demand programme. This kind of advertising:

  • must be readily recognisable and cannot contain any surreptitious advertising or use subliminal advertising techniques;
  • must not encourage behaviour that risks the health or safety of people; and
  • must not advertise tobacco products, prescription-only medicines or medical treatments.

If you have a complaint about an advert on a regulated video on demand service please complain to the Advertising Standards Authority using its online complaints form or by calling 020 7492 2222.

As well as rules about the programmes and advertising service providers show, there are rules about how service providers should operate.