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PROVO — VidAngel announced Tuesday it will offer filtering options on major streaming services, including Netflix, HBO and Amazon.
The Provo-based company launched a new service to filter offensive content on select streaming services during a live Facebook announcement at 7 p.m.
The new service was made available on mobile devices Tuesday night and will be made available on Apple TV, Roku and other players later, according to VidAngel's CEO Neal Harmon. The service costs $7.99 a month with the first month free.
Those with a subscription can push a button on the VidAngel app to connect their Netflix, Amazon or HBO account and VidAngel will filter any movies the user chooses to watch from those sites.
"It connects you up in the cloud, and then when you ask to be able to filter a movie from Netflix, VidAngel watches that movie for you in the cloud and then filters it down to your favorite device," Harmon said.
While Netflix and Amazon are not authorized to directly filter their content, VidAngel says it's a middleman service that will still allow Hollywood studios to be paid their streaming licensing fees while also letting families filter content.
VidAngel has recently been engaged in a legal battle with Disney and three other Hollywood studios who filed a lawsuit against VidAngel in December 2016 over streaming rights. Hollywood studios claim VidAngel violated copyright law by streaming and filtering movies without owning the streaming rights.
"This case was never about filtering. The court recognized that the Family Movie Act does not provide a defense to VidAngel’s infringing acts of ripping, copying and streaming copyrighted movies and TV shows. We look forward to defending the court’s decision against any appeal by VidAngel,” said Warner Bros., Disney and Fox in a previous statement made when a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction against the video-streaming service.
VidAngel, however, says its main mission is to make filtering easy and accessible for families and are simply looking for the best way to do so.
"Most everyone watches their movies on modern streaming devices, and VidAngel is bringing that to families and it's huge," Harmon said. "The studios say they're OK with filtering, but their problem is with VidAngel streaming DVDs online ... and selling them back at this dollar price. ... This new service does none of those things, it doesn't involve discs."
VidAngel says it has had "encouraging" talks with Amazon and Netflix and that people inside those organizations are excited about this new technology and service. However, VidAngel's new venture is not an official partnership with these companies.
Harmon does not expect Netflix or Amazon to take issue with the service since it drives more traffic to their sites but acknowledged that he cannot speak for the companies involved.
VidAngel's website underwent a major change at the time of the announcement and received three times more traffic than VidAngel had anticipated.
"We're really grateful for the response. It's clear there's a lot of pent-up demand. Our servers were crushed last night ... We have tons of content coming and we have a whole bunch of original content that's on the site," Harmon said.
Subscribers can also watch any of VidAngel's original movies and "the world's largest collection of clean standup comedy."
More information about the service is available on VidAngel's website.