A Look At VidAngel’s New Netflix Filtering Service

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VidAngel and Netflix

For some, movie and TV show filtering is the white whale of the family entertainment business—an elusive tool that gives viewers the ability to watch otherwise good movies without the problematic content. VidAngel, a relatively new player in the game of entertainment filtering technology, is trying to buck the trend of fad filtering services that quickly fizzle.

It launched a few years ago and really began gaining momentum in 2016. Its popularity was fueled by its reasonable pricing structure and the way it allowed users to stream the latest from Hollywood without running to Redbox or paying a premium to Amazon or iTunes. They managed to do that by purchasing physical copies of movies and then selling, buying back, and reselling those physical copies to customers and allowing those buyers/customers to stream a digital version of their physical DVD.

But there were—and are—questions about the service’s legality, VidAngel has been locked in a court battle with a cadre of Hollywood’s most prominent players since late 2016, and a judge issued an order for VidAngel to stop operating while the court case continued.

But as that legal case hangs in limbo, VidAngel pivoted towards a new filtering frontier: your Netflix and Amazon Instant Video queue.

Here’s a quick breakdown of how their new Netflix and Amazon Prime filtering service works in real life.

Time will tell whether this change in strategy pays off for VidAngel, and they have yet to secure official deals with Netflix and Amazon. “Their contracts don’t allow them to officially sanction what we’re doing,” VidAngel CEO Neal Harmon told Variety. And for now, VidAngel won’t be offering filtered content from any studio its involved in litigation with.

In the meantime, though, what do you think of VidAngel’s new service? Does it sound like something you and/or your family are interested in checking out? What kinds of questions does this raise? Be sure to let us know in the comments below!

Who wrote this?

Jake Roberson is Plugged In’s social media manager and strategist. He’s the father of four children and husband of one wife, and he quite likes life that way. He also likes writing about entertainment, pop culture, dadhood … and food. He’s also a former Guinness World Record holder for participating in the largest hacky sack circle. Catch up with him on Twitter @jake_roberson

Have something to say? Leave a comment.

Anonymous 5 months ago
Can a parent see what filters were used after his child watches a tv program/movie?
jake_roberson 5 months ago
Yes and no. The last filter(s) used for a movie/show does stay in place upon completion of the show/movie. However, no record is officially kept. So someone could watch with one set of filters and change the filters afterwards and you wouldn't know it.
Eric N Deb Battle More than 1 year ago
Nice video! It answered a LOT of my questions and really makes me want to go ahead and sign up for your services! I do have one question though - do you guys filter television shows on Netflix as well? Thanks!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Posted by subtlevariationsofblue

PluggedIn doesn't own or run VidAngel, just so you know. :)

And I think they do filter some TV shows. They are not currently filtering any movies from the studios they're currently in a lawsuit with, though, so Disney and other studios are out.
Jacob Weaver More than 1 year ago
 So does that mean I can't watch series like Marvel's Daredevil with filters?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Posted by subtlevariationsofblue

To be honest, I'm not sure. I'm not subscribed to VidAngel or Netflix currently. Perhaps you could contact VidAngel and ask.
jake_roberson More than 1 year ago
Yes, to subtlevariationsofblue's point, Plugged In does not run or own VidAngel. Our perspective was/is a simply a review of their service as an outside entity.

To your question, Eric/Deb, yes they do have filters for TV shows.
Catarina Parsons More than 1 year ago
Nice job explaining the way VidAngel now works. I was unclear how it had changed when I signed up for the free month trial.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
@ Evan: So, not to pick on you bro (you've had a little already), but I've heard the whole "artist" example MANY times and I agree with you.  Where you're off, however, is VidAngel DID physically purchase and own the DVD's.  At that point, they should be able to adjust the content.  Sorry, but if I owned a print (obviously not an original!) of a Van Gogh and decided to burn it, that's my business.  Honestly, just about anything (within the law) that you've purchased, you should be able to do anything you please with it.
Evan Weisensel More than 1 year ago
You bring up a good point, a point that I've used when talking about this stuff as well. My problem with it comes in with the buyback loophole they operated under. It'd be like if I bought a Mona Lisa, converted it into a L.H.O.O.Q. (look it up) replica, and then returned it for full price. Or if I bought a book at the the bookstore and returned it when I was done. Sure, I can do that within the law, but it's not a very ethical or Godly thing to do seeing as you're more or less taking money from someone else's hard work. That, and their marketing always rubbed my the wrong way. What with the whole "One BLEEPING dollar" slogan and the the stuff that said that a sanitized GoT was good for family viewing with the wee ones among other things. All in all, even though many people benefit from their service and I'm completely ok with the idea of filtering media you legally own, I'm just not that big a fan of VidAngel and hope a better solution comes along. (I think Son'y got the right idea when it comes to selling both filtered and unfiltered versions of their films for those who want the option to do so.)
Joshua Kroeger More than 1 year ago
Interesting.  The question is, would I rather spend extra time (and money) to filter out a scene or two from Stanger Things that I could easily fast-forward myself?
Justice M. More than 1 year ago

I think VidAngel (and services like it) can be very helpful for making nearly-clean movies acceptable for family viewing. It frustrates me when a film is about 95% acceptable, but spoils it with an errant word, joke, or scene. Movies like “The Princess Bride”, with its single misuse of Christ’s name and Inigo Montoya’s curse during the swordfight, come to mind. I can handle it, but I wish it weren’t there.

 

On the other hand, I think content filters can be misused, as in the case of trying to clean up “Game of Thrones”. If a movie or TV series is predicated on darkness and notorious for graphic content, no amount of filtering is going to make it redeemable. It's better to just exercise self-control and refuse to watch anything that requires so much alteration. 


I also wonder about long-term outcomes: if one has only seen the “clean version” of a film, it’s easy to forget what’s actually in it, re-watch a regular copy years later for nostalgia’s sake, and then be taken aback by the content. This even happens with movies that were never filtered to begin with.

Whitney Williams More than 1 year ago
To be able to filter Netflix is amazing. There are so many wonderful movies out there I would like to share with my kids, but the language or certain scenes are problematic. For example, my boys are dying to see The Avengers series, but I don't feel comfortable with the language or suggestive content. 
Shannon McCrary More than 1 year ago
Can we get a refund for our previous VidAngel account that we had and maybe use it toward the subscription? We still have $32 with that account that we were never able to use before it shut down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Posted by subtlevariationsofblue

You'll have to check their site to be sure, but I believe you can put your balance towards a new subscription.
Mason Goodknight More than 1 year ago
That happens automatically if you do not ask for a refund. It is currently free and the 30 day trial won't start until it gets the bugs out.
_j_ d.o.g. More than 1 year ago
We use this service extensively! #thankyouVIDANGEL
Matthew Cox More than 1 year ago
Thanks @jake_roberson for this post. I appreciate the effort to help those enjoy filtered services have a better understanding of it.
Bob Mahlstedt More than 1 year ago
I've used VidAngel and think it's an awesome technology. Everyone should be able to edit or filter content from media to their liking. Just as everyone has the freedom to mute or fast-forward content on their TVs, VidAngel technology is a logical extension of that freedom (and right). The media companies in this lawsuit against VidAngel are on the wrong side of history and the advance of technology. They had better work out a compromise and embrace the inevitable.
Evan Weisensel More than 1 year ago
I honestly never really liked VidAngel that much, with their smug attitude, Mormonism, sketchy business practices, and implication that just because you sanitized the overtly adult stuff in something like Game of Thrones, then it's a-okay for family viewing with the wee ones (never mind the generally dark and dreary tone, morally grey characters, and complex political discussions). So I was honestly glad VidAngel got sued, here's hoping this Netflix thing doesn't last long either, because this just seems even sketchier than before.
Lucy Merriweather More than 1 year ago
we love vidangel and we'd never watch game of thrones, what we do watch are family movies. Recently I watched an unfiltered family movie about a girl learning to play chess to challenge a bully. Seems a safe bet that it's "clean" right? WRONG! They blasphemed the Lord's name twice and cursed 3 times...I'm thankful that vidangel came along so they can take out the 5 things in this "innocent" film that would keep me from watching it again or recommending it. Just because they put Game of Thrones on the menu doesn't mean we watch it, let alone sit down with out children to watch. Filtering is a right per the 2005 Family Movie Act and I want the ability to watch family movies without the little parts to turn a normally fun movie into more garbage we won't watch. i too didn't like their original "loophole" theory, but this new plan is the same thing that Clearplay is doing, it's the same thing done by airlines for in flight movies. There IS a market for filtering and we should have the right to do it. 
Evan Weisensel More than 1 year ago
The main reason I mentioned the implication of Game of Thrones was because they heavily advertised it's filtering in their marketing by having parents and kids watching it together, which just left a bad taste in my mouth. Also, I remember reading that in order to decide what needs to be filtered, the CEO has his very young kids watch the stuff before had, something I think just isn't healthy for the kids in the long run. So yes, even though I agree that people should have the right to filter the things they want, I don't believe people should support or praise VidAngel due to the extremely sketchy practices they use to do so.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Posted by subtlevariationsofblue

@Evan: Um, where did you hear that the CEO has his kids watch things to decide how to filter? It's specifically stated on their website that they have a large team of adults who choose what movies they're comfortable with viewing (no "taking one for the team"), and then they set the filters for said movies.
_j_ d.o.g. More than 1 year ago
Like your sketchy post?
Evan Weisensel More than 1 year ago
Yes, that one.

Maybe as an artist I don't like them due to the fact I wouldn't appreciate it if someone took my hard work and meddled with it without my consent and without paying me. So here's hoping either get their act together and  they learn to communicate with studios better, or someone else comes along and does that. I think Sony's got the right idea by selling both filtered and unfiltered versions of their movies. It gives people options and allows studios to do it on their own terms without a sketchy company doing it for them.
Matthew Cox More than 1 year ago
What about them is sketchy? They have completely honest in their business practices by following the courts order to no longer filter singled out movies. I personally really am grateful that I could have watched any movie such as Lone Survivor, Die Hard, Gladiator, or 127 Hours. I had the "ability" finally to watch those movies for the first time because I could watch them and avoid swearing, excessive gore, or nudity. 
  Please expound on what their sketchy business practices are. I personally have not found any. 
_j_ d.o.g. More than 1 year ago
How does that effect you tho? Good lord...
Mason Goodknight More than 1 year ago
I don't know who you dealt with but their customer service is one of the fastest and most courteous and most helpful I've ever used. Their CEO Mr. Harmon even specifically said he doesn't think certain shows are appropriate for him regardless of filters and said that customer freedom is the key. I'm not a Mormon but a born again Christian and I pray that all sinners, Mormon or otyeewise will repent and trust in the true Christ of scripture alone for salvation. That said I praise God for the common grace He's shown in using VidAngel for families benefit. I just honestly can't see wherre your comments come from a place of rationality. Glad someone trying to help families got sued? Really? Baffling.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am glad that VidAngel is working again.  I was paying $8 every month before w. VidAngel before they stop filtering Hollywood movies so paying $7.99 a month w them is perfect. 
bobed More than 1 year ago
I suppose VidAngel might be a good idea for some. We don't use it. If a movie has content that I want to avoid, I just avoid that movie instead of putting in the extra effort to filter it just so I can toss Hollywood a few extra dollars. No sir, not me. 

If Hollywood doesn't make decent content, then I'm not going to pay for it, and I'm certainly not going to bend over backwards to make filthy content a semblance of decent. That being said, for families who don't care where their money goes, I suppose a service like this would be a godsend.
Bernie W. More than 1 year ago
I was a huge vidangel fan. I don't want to pay for a netflix subscription just to filter movies, though, so I'm not using their new service.