An opening sequence in Andor, the new Disney Plus Star Wars show, that featured the cryptic characters BBY 5, was a disappointment to even serious Star Wars enthusiasts. Turns out it's a way of marking time in a distant past.
Before the Battle of Yavin, or BBY, stands for Before the Battle of Yavin. Yavin is the planet around which the epic battle in Star Wars: A New Hope takes place, with Luke Skywalker defeating the first Death Star and saving the Rebel Alliance from total annihilation. ABY stands for After the Battle of Yavin, which counts down, with 0 BBY representing the year in which the Battle of Yavin took place. ABY 1 is the year following the Battle of Yavin.
The real-world calendar uses CE (the Common Era) and BCE (Before the Common Era) to mark periods of time. BCE and CE instead share year 1, which coincides with Christian belief in the birth of Jesus Christ. Prior to BC and AD, historians instead used Anno Domini, or The Year of our Lord.
BBY 5 is a five-year advance on the events of A New Hope. We talk about the larger Star Wars timeline including how Emperor Palpatine, Darth Vader, and other Star Wars streaming television programs interplay with things in a larger timeline.
Star Wars films have traditionally included this sort of historical context in their opening scenes. Nine mainline films all feature an iconic text crawl that slides up from the bottom of the screen to disappear into space. The Mandalorian, on the other hand, eliminates that text entirely, giving no upfront textual clues as to when or where the action takes place from episode to episode.
The absence of text crawls, or the absence of planet names, caused some backlash from fans, especially during the run of the first season of The Mandalorian. So while Andors is a good idea, it may be seen as a bit of a parody to those who were dissatisfied with the absence in the recent past.