VidAngel CEO Neal Harmon can’t watch his favorite movie through his own company’s app.
But that hasn’t stopped VidAngel from developing a new service that allows subscribers to watch filtered content from Netflix, Amazon and HBO (which comes free with an Amazon Prime subscription).
The company announced this week a change to its service that allows customers to enter in their credentials for other streaming services and then watch TV shows, movies and miniseries filtered by VidAngel.
The service is available on iOS and Android devices, desktop and through Roku. It costs $7.99 a month, with the first 30 days free.
Subscribers will need Netflix or Amazon accounts to access content, according to the Deseret News.
Harmon said his favorite movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” is not available yet, though.
Why? Mostly because the development team is still working on the technology to make sure it can happen.
Harmon had a lot of praise for the VidAngel engineering team in a phone interview Thursday. He told the Deseret News that about 20 company engineers worked for six months straight “without sleep” to finish the technology.
“They’ve accomplished things we didn’t even think were possible when we started this project,” Harmon said.
In fact, VidAngel developed the concept for filtering content seen on third-party streaming apps, like Netflix and Amazon, before the Provo-based company even existed, Harmon said.
Harmon said the goal was always to find a way to filter Netflix for family-friendly audiences, who, he said, "don’t want to be treated as second-class media citizens. They want to have the same experience as other people.”
The company knew the technology was there to help them accomplish that goal. But, Harmon said, VidAngel didn’t have the time or resources to develop it.
So VidAngel waited.
Eventually, VidAngel received more time to develop the technology, at a cost.
Four Hollywood studios, including Disney, Lucasfilm, 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros., filed a lawsuit against VidAngel over filtering and streaming rights. It was last December when a judge filed an injunction against VidAngel, calling for the company to end its services.
The previous VidAngel model allowed subscribers to stream films and edit out parts of it based on selected sittings. People paid $20 for movies from VidAngel, who paid $19 to buy the movie back.
So began the process of redeveloping the company. Harmon said the company pushed up its two main goals. Originally, the company planned to launch original content through VidAngel studios in mid-2017 and then moved the deadline for filtering content from third-party apps closer to 2018.
“We threw every one of our resources … to building on the project,” Harmon said.
VidAngel studios launched in mid-December.
And just this week, filtering Netflix and Amazon content became a reality.
“This is something that’s been years in the making. We turned everything over to this new effort,” Harmon said.
Parents Television Council President Tim Winter told the Deseret News that he supports the new streaming service because it “helps parents in furtherance of the PTC’s mission,” which is to inform families of inappropriate content.
“If you start purely from a mission standpoint, we could not be happier, more thrilled, with what we heard last night,” he said.
Winter said studios may still have a problem with the technology, which would show that they have a problem against filtered content.
Netflix said Thursday that it has not "endorsed or approved" the new service,.
Harmon said he hopes the streaming services will see their service as a benefit. As Variety reported, the companies “could alter their interface in such a way to thwart filtering.”
But Harmon said filtering through VidAngel helps both movie studios and families.
“The nice thing about filtering is that it does allow directors to create what they want and people in the home filter to their own value system,” he said.