NOTE: this article is outdated. Please see our full review of VidAngel.
Did you ever hear of ClearPlay? Our family had one, and we loved it. It’s a DVD player that allows you to filter all the sex, violence, and profanity out of movies. I’ll be honest, most of the movies we watched didn’t need it that much, but it was very good at removing the proverbial cockroaches from the ice cream.
I’ll be honest about something else. I haven’t watched a DVD in ages. Streaming is the name of the game these days. So I had pretty much resigned myself to watching the bugs in the ice cream or not partaking at all. Not an impossible choice, but I can’t deny my standards have cycled in and out of “good.”
Enter VidAngel. Basically, this is ClearPlay for streaming video. It filters sex, nudity, profanity, and violence out of streaming video according to your very granular preferences. It is a Chrome extension and service that works on YouTube and for movies watched via the Google Play Store.
The filters are crowdsourced, as far as I can tell, and the selection might not be utterly fantastic, but it’s growing quickly, with popular shows like House of Cards, Breaking Bad, Sherlock, and Game of Thrones being added to the mix, along with many new releases and award-winning films.
Selection issues aside, I can vouch for the performance of the Chrome extension. I watched Gladiator, a movie whose soundtrack I’ve always loved, but which I’ve never seen due to lots of rated R content. VidAngel worked like a charm. I have a feeling the movie as I experienced it was significantly shorter than the original, but I suppose that’s to be expected when filtering rated R violence out of a film about humans slaughtering each other for sport.
What does it cost? The answer to this question changed between the time I started drafting this post and the time I published it. Originally, it was a freemium-type model, where the filters were free for older and less popular shows, and you paid for new releases and the like. Now, however, you can either buy a subscription for $7.99/mo (unlimited filters), or purchase individual filters for viewing. VidAngel seems to be a rapidly developing product, so check in with them often to see what’s new.
Note: If you use Chromecast, you must use the tab cast feature for the filtering to work.
If you primarily stream your movies and shows, and you want to spare yourself the filth and still see a movie you’ve always wanted to, this might be a good way to do it. Check out their explanatory video below.
When it comes to filtering movies and TV shows, what is your take? Is it worth it? Does it destroy artistic integrity? Or is it a great way to enjoy entertainment with your family? Let us know in the comments below.
Don’t get too comfortable with VidAngel
ClearPlay has alleged infringement of U.S. Patent Nos. 6,898,799 (“the ‘799 patent”), 6,889,383 (“the ‘383 patent”), 7,526,784 (“the ‘784 patent”), 7,543,318 (“the ‘318 patent”), 7,577,970 (“the ‘970 patent”), 7,975,021 (“the ‘021 patent”), and 8,117,282 (“the ‘282 patent”) (collectively, the “Patents-in-Suit”) and told VidAngel that it intends to “stop” VidAngel’s commercial activities.
Thanks for the additional info. Gotta love patent wars…
The filters aren’t crowd sourced, vidangel pays people to do them.
Anyway, I find it totally ironic that clearplay would sue based on patent issues, when it has been fighting patent issues itself with nissim. Bad form 😐
I did a quick search and found that it was Vidangel that sued ClearPlay. The litigation is titled VidAngel vs ClearPlay and in case titles I believe it is the plaintiff is listed first and then the defendant who is listed second.
OK appears from the text of the lawsuit that clearplay told them “collaborate or we’ll shut you down” so I guess they decided to sue so clearplay would “not shut them down” FWIW
Not only that, there’s a long list of complaints against this company by both consumers and employees.
Here is their employee complaints board, I think you will be shocked if you make a free log-in and read this
I’ve used ClearPlay’s DVD player and streaming options. When their Blu-Ray solution is sold this winter, I plan on buying a unit.
Last night, I had a chance to use the VidAngel streaming solution for the first time. I believe VidAngel has created a great streaming solution. It worked seamlessly and the filters were granular enough to drill down to exactly what we wanted to avoid. I hope the VidAngel service continues for a long time to come!
Tyler, thanks for this post on VidAngel. I wanted to make a quick correction. The $7.99 per month was one of many tests we ran to find the correct model in early 2014. After our July 2014 launch, VidAngel filters your content for free.
In addition, after getting so many requests to support Roku, Chromecast, Apple TV, and mobile devices, VidAngel has started testing a brand new service which is comparable to Redbox in pricing and includes the filter for free.
Watch a filtered HD movie for $2 or a filtered SD movie for $1.50 – see below for details and for a comparison with ClearPlay:
Full-disclosure: I am a VidAngel founder.
Thanks for the update, Neal! I was actually beta testing the newest version of VidAngel, and thinking I should probably update this post. Thanks for providing the motivation for me to do so for real. 🙂 Congrats on a really cool product. I hope you find a lot of success!
Is the plan to always remain free? What service are you using for the “self streaming” option? Cheers! (full disclosure, I’m a “clean editing movie player” developer).
The plan is for the filtering to always remain free. You only pay for the content. Roger, you want to come work with us? Where are you based? We are always looking for great developers. Cheers!
I really like the monthly option.
When will you add season 6 game of thrones?
Hi Rachael, this is the Mormon Life Hacker sir you’ve commented on, not VidAngel. Here’s info on how you can request they add new content: http://help.vidangel.com/knowledge_base/topics/if-youd-like-to-request-a-movie-to-be-filtered.
Game of Thrones season 6???
See my reply to Rachael’s comment.
I use VidAngel….what a delight for people that choose to see a movie without the R rating issues . It is a great value ($2) for HD movie and especially if you would only watch once. If you don’t sell back,I’m not sure how you would “buy” the movie….But i recommend for people that absolutely wont watch something they are sorry they did. Thank you!
Hi, that was a terrific article and much appreciated. Quick question. Is VidAngel available in Ireland?
Great question Patrick. We are not sure if VidAngel is available in Ireland. Please check out their website.