What Does TV MA Mean? (Difference R rating)

Have you ever noticed the “TV MA” label on a TV program, series, or movie and wondered what it means?

TV-MA is a rating assigned to content on TV, specifically in the United States. The TV Parental Guidelines provide this rating to help parents understand the appropriate age target. Such content is designed exclusively for adults.

What Does TV-MA Mean?

“TV-Mature Audience” is what TV-MA stands for. Specifically, TV programs or movies receive this rating when they are deemed suitable only for adults. For instance, TV-MA content can feature graphic violence, explicit sex scenes, or coarse language. Therefore, this rating means children under 17 shouldn’t watch this content.

What Age is TV-MA Suitable For?

TV-MA is an age-specific rating, suggesting that the content is inappropriate for children under 17. As a parent or guardian, it’s essential to ensure that younger viewers are not exposed to content that’s not suitable for their age.

Parental Guidelines ratings

Understanding Parental Guidelines Ratings

The FCC (Federal Communication Commission) introduced the TV Parental Guidelines ratings on January 1, 1997. The FCC sets standards for broadcast television in the United States.

The primary purpose of these guidelines is to inform TV viewers and parents about the content they or their children are about to watch. This system helps viewers set expectations and make informed choices.

There are six primary ratings, plus one additional rating: TV-Y, TV-Y7 (or TV-Y7 FV), TV-G, TV-PG, TV-14, and TV-MA.

TV shows display these ratings before the program starts, indicating the content’s category.

Here are the six ratings, along with their logos and meanings:

TV-Y (babies + young kids)

TV-Y logo means young. The program is aimed at a very young audience, including children from ages 2 to 6.

TV-Y7 (kids)

TV-Y7 means a program is designed for children age 7 and above.

– Extra rating TV-Y7 FV (kids)

Some programs may add 2 letters “FV” when a TV-Y7 rated content shows “fantasy violence“.

TV-G (everyone)

TV-G means General audience, a program suitable for all ages. This content contains little or no violence, no strong language, and little or no sexual dialogue nor images.

TV-PG (teens)

TV-PG means Parental guidance is recommended. It is often seen on prime time. These programs may be unsuitable for younger children because the content may contain strong language, little sexual content and/or references, moderate violence and/or suggestive dialogue and some sexual content or partial nudity, which may not be suitable for young children.

TV-14 (older teens)

TV-14 means this program contains some material that many parents would find unsuitable for children under 14 years of age. Programs with this rating may include indecent language, intense sexual content and violence.

TV-MA (adults)

TV-MA means Mature Audience a program intended to be viewed by adults only and may be unsuitable for children under 17. Programs with this rating may include crude indecent language, explicit sexual activity and graphic violence.

TV Parental Guideline content descriptors

Because each program can show different type of content (violence, language, sex…), or all of them at sonce, content descriptors were added to help describe better the content type with sub-ratings (with letters D,L,S,V).

  • D – Sexual or suggestive dialogue
  • L – Coarse or crude language
  • S – Sexual situations
  • V – Violence

Some content could only show one letter while others could show all 4 letters and be much stronger content.

How to Prevent Children From Watching TV-MA Content?

As a parent, there are several methods to restrict or block unsuitable content for children:

  • Using your smart TV’s parental controls
  • Through your internet provider’s settings
  • On streaming apps or profiles
  • By removing the TV from their bedroom

For instance, Samsung provides guidance on how to block programs by rating on their TVs. Similar guidance is available for other TV brands; a quick online search can provide specific instructions.

Your internet provider may also offer options to block certain content. Additionally, there are parental control apps or software available that can further restrict access to unsuitable content.

Restricting TV-MA Content on Streaming Apps

Parental controls on streaming apps

Popular streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, Vudu, HBO Max, and Prime Video offer the ability to restrict access based on content ratings. Specific profiles can be set up to block certain ratings, ensuring younger viewers don’t encounter inappropriate content.

For example, with Netflix, you can set parental controls for individual profiles. If you don’t want your child to watch TV-MA content, you can configure their profile to block such content automatically.

Ratings on Netflix

Each streaming platform has its own set of ratings, and these can vary by country. Fortunately, in the United States and Canada, Netflix uses the same ratings as the TV Parental Guidelines. To set a maturity rating level for a profile on your Netflix account:

  • Go to Profile > Parental Controls
  • Select a profile and choose “Viewing Restrictions”
  • Set the desired maturity level

You can also block specific shows and movies for individual profiles. More information about Netflix’s maturity ratings is available for the United Kingdom and Australia.

Difference between TV-MA and R Rating

The TV-MA rating is intended for mature audiences and is the most restrictive rating on TV. It’s comparable to the R rating for movies, though there are some differences.

While TV-MA content is suitable only for adults, R-rated content can be viewed by children under 17 when accompanied by an adult.

TV-MA includes scenes of explicit violence, strong sexual content, strong language, nudity and coarse humor. It is considered unsuitable for children and teenagers. This younger audience should not be exposed to any content rated TV-MA. It is the highest rating.

R for restricted is a film rating level created by the MPA (Motion picture association). It is above PG-13 but below NC-17. PG-13 stands for Parental guidance for children under 13 means some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

NC-17 stands for No children 17 and under with or without adult supervision, typically because of extreme sexual visuals and / or violence. R rated content is almost as strict as the TV-MA rating.

Popular Shows on Netflix that are TV-MA

There are some popular Netflix shows and series that are TV-MA rated. They include heavy cursing, graphic violence and or nudity:

  • House of the Dragon
  • Sandman
  • Better call Saul
  • Game of Thrones
  • Echos
  • Only murders in the building
  • The Boys
  • Black Bird
  • The Walking Dead
  • Westworld
  • The Rehearsal
  • Peaky Blinders
  • Yellowstone
  • Severance
  • The Bear
  • Glow
  • Ugly Delicious
  • Russian Doll
  • Special
  • and many more…

Is TV-MA the same as R on Netflix?

TV-MA content worse than R rated content.

It is the most restricted or censored form of television that airs in the United States. It is designed to control the viewer’s age and can only be viewed by adults over 17 years old.

TV-MA means children 17 or below are not allowed to watch this content, even with adult consent.

You typically find this content on cable networks and subscription channels like HBO and others. The R rating is almost the equivalent on Netflix but not as strict.

R means children below 17 can’t watch the show without adult supervision but can with an adult.

Which is worse, rated R or TV-MA?

TV-MA is the highest rating and the most restricted of all ratings on TV. The R rating is almost equivalent or nearly the same because it is above PG-13 but below NC-17.

Is TV-MA the same as PG-13?

No, there is a difference. While PG-13 is not suitable for children under 13, TV-MA is not suitable for children and teenagers under 17.

Wrapping it up

The TV-MA rating means the content is for a “Mature Audience”. This rating helps identify a TV program that contains material that is appropriate for mature audiences only. It is the highest rating.

You can find a TV-MA rating on a TV program if it contains coarse language, violence, or sexual content. TV-MA content can be found on TV, in movies, and in video games too.

Parental controls help parents determine if content is suitable for their children. TV-MA is the highest rating.

Many consider TV-MA equivalent to an R-rated movie. However, TV-MA appears slightly more restrictive because those below age 17 cannot view it. In contrast, while children below 17 shouldn’t watch R-rated content, they can with adult supervision.

The TV-MA rating appears on the top left of the TV screen when showing the content, and the rating symbol also indicates it.

As a parent, you can use parental controls to block access to TV-MA content. You can restrict TV-MA access in various ways:

  • from your smart TV
  • from streaming apps/profiles
  • through your internet provider
  • or by removing the smart TV from their bedroom

You now have a comprehensive understanding of TV ratings, their meanings, and how to prevent children from watching TV-MA content.

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