Internet technology has come a long way in every sphere of life, including how we watch TV. Television show die-hards once gathered across cyberspace to discuss the latest nail-biting episode of their favorite shows. Now they can binge-watch entire seasons at a time through streaming services, ranging from subscription plans to video on demand (VOD). The rise of streaming posed a problem for parents or viewers uncomfortable with profanity, sex, and violence displayed on-screen. Films with objectionable content could only be viewed in their original formats. One content filtering option, ClearPlay, works only for DVDs, and television networks that still edit films for content run by traditional broadcast schedules in an increasingly content-on-demand market.
Families and conscientious viewers have a new option, a versatile filtered streaming service called VidAngel. It may be the new kid in town, but it’s changing the rules of content viewing.
Choosing What to Watch is Just the First Decision
Don’t want to listen to profanity while watching “The Terminator” but want to see every shot fired in the action scenes? VidAngel has you covered! Wish you could turn off the lights and enjoy del Toro’s new ghost story “Crimson Peak” without the sex scenes? VidAngel skips to the next part. Want to watch the Star Wars prequels without Jar Jar Binks? VidAngel understands and will make sure you never have to see or hear him again. “This movie contains Jar Jar Binks,” Vidangel warns in their filter settings for “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.” “We have done our best to remove this negative element from the movie, but there are still some limbs here and there or wide shots with him. We’re just sorry we even have to do this in the first place.”
The VidAngel philosophy is “watch movies however the BLEEP you want.” It puts the consumer in control of customizing the viewing experience. Here’s how it works: the viewer pays $20 for a film they wish to watch with the option to “sell back” at the end of the movie for a refund of $19, thus giving the option of unlimited streaming access to the content for $20 or simply watching it as a $1 rental. Before beginning the movie, the viewer can customize the filters to include or omit content at his or her discretion for a personalized experience.
Ditch the Remote for a New Kind of Control
There are a lot of options available, from blocking blasphemy and immodesty to including certain parts under a particular category, while still blocking others. It’s all up to the viewer. VidAngel’s staff screen each movie, then tag content described by short captions so that the viewer can make informed decisions when setting the filters.
VidAngel has a robust system that catches most objectionable content. Depending on the situation, it silences words or sentences or cuts entire shots or scenes. This can sometimes create a jarring effect, but not so much to likely deter the consumers that this service appeals to. Sometimes a curse word slips through the cracks, or the audio cuts only after part of a word has already been said. Sometimes in films with particularly heavy profanity such as “Apocalypse Now” the filter attempts to silence a word but fails to cover up all layers of sound, resulting in low-volume profanity that can still be heard. Despite these flaws, VidAngel’s system is so effective that it can scrub all but one instance of blasphemy in “The Terminator.” Considering the heavy language content in that movie, consumers should have a lot more faith in machines by the time the credits roll than Sarah Connor does.