Quality over Quantity – VidAngel’s Take on Autoplay

In an effort to serve the needs of families over the needs of VidAngel, we have decided to give families the option to easily turn off the upcoming VidAngel “autoplay-the-next-episode” feature. Here’s why.

 

Netflix, Facebook, and YouTube go to great lengths to keep users on their websites for the longest time possible. They spend millions ensuring that every feature of their products is habit-forming (see Hooked: How to build Habit-Forming Products).

 

Thanks to Netflix’s autoplay, bedtime at my house is a battle. As the evening episode of “When Calls the Heart” ends, our girls fight to keep Mom or Dad away from the remote so that the next episode will begin. As parents, we usually find the autoplay feature to be a hindrance, not a help.

Netflix Autoplay: Next Episode Playing in 9 seconds

 

Has the Netflix autoplay feature had a net-positive impact on our world’s happiness and productivity? At VidAngel, we are hesitant to take a similar strategy.

 

Personally, I find media to be a good servant, but a bad master. I value media, not when it consumes my every minute, but when it helps me achieve my other life goals, such as:

 

  • – Love (seeing examples of healthy and unhealthy relationships)
  • – Learning (seeing examples of those who have been where I am, or where I want to go)
  • – Empathy (understanding those whose experiences are different from my own)
  • – Laughter (cultivating a light-hearted life)
  • – Or a Nap (resting easy without worrying that the little ones are getting into trouble)

 

Tristan Harris, founder of Time Well Spent,  also believes that media is a bad master. He argues that, rather than incentivizing binge watching and “show[ing] whatever keeps us scrolling”, the tech and media industry must instead begin “to put our best interests first.”

 

I want VidAngel to put the needs of families ahead of the needs of VidAngel. Meaning that customers who, like myself, wish to consume their media in moderation should not feel pressured to binge watch against their better judgment.

 

Although our team is currently working on an autoplay-next-episode feature for those who have asked for it, we have decided to use VidAngel to help achieve our media goals as families rather than simply copying Netflix’s.  Hence, our tech team will provide an easily available “disable autoplay” button. That’s something I’d like as a parent. We’ll also make it super easy to “enable autoplay” for those who are in the mood to binge. It’s up to you.

 

What do you think? Please share your thoughts or parental feature requests below in the comments. What would you love to have as a feature to your favorite family media app?

 

Even though the average American watches five hours of TV per day, we’re ok if VidAngel families get quality rather than quantity on their media experiences. Watch however the BLEEP you want.

Neal Harmon, Co-founder and Father of Eight 🙂

80 thoughts on “Quality over Quantity – VidAngel’s Take on Autoplay

  1. I along with countless other families are hoping for a bigger direction. There are more an more media directing towards the Spanish speaking audience and that also needs filtering services in order to control what is transferred from my TV to my kids eyes.

    looking forward to the great news when VidAngel can take over the ability to filter Spanish speaking shows.

  2. I believe a disable/enable auto-play feature is a good idea. Also if it is disabled it helps parents review the filters before playing the next episode to make sure everything is covered as filter content can change from episode to episode.

    1. I use the default filter for this which works great for us because I just have it cranked way up (for the kids) and only review the filters for me…Although a profile based filter would sure be nice because what I want filtered for me is different from my wife and most obviously very different for my kids.

      My only major complaint is that once I tweak the filters on something I can’t reset out back to the default which would be preferred (based on profile).

    1. I just hope it is configurable because I’d rather have it enabled… maybe it can be a setting based on profiles so the kids profile would have it off…but mom and dad could leave it on. 🙂

    1. As I understand it, Vid angel was created to give us as parents options, this new direction stays consistent with that. It gives the Parents the option for their family. Great Job!

  3. I was an avid VidAngel user for the original platform. I also invested in VidAngel for their legal battles and bought VidAngel stock. But, I have not continued with VidAngel as the new platform is not something that I wanted. I do not want to pay another monthly subscription on top of my Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. Unless it was a lower monthly amount, like Feel’n or Dove Channel, $1.99-$4.99.

    1. We did a lot of price research on the filtering service before we launched.
      Not only that, we launched offering original content (more to come) and Dry Bar Comedy in addition to the filtering that customers expected.
      The product is not for everyone at this stage however and we hopefully will be able to win you back in the future.
      We’ll continue to improve the service and we appreciate price feedback.

      1. Isame as the one above. However we did try the new platform and did not use it enough to want to continue. It’s just easier to watch nothing than to pay that much. Absolutely agree about the auto play.

    2. Agreed! I love vidangel, but don’t want more monthly subscription fees. We watch movies/tv shows in moderation so $7.99/month is not worth it. Just like giving the option to auto play or not, I think there should be a plan option that allows us to pay $1/movie or higher amount for a tv series or something. Accounts could still be linked to Netflix,Hulu, Amazon but we pay Per view, not per month. This is how the old platform that we all fell in love with could be brought back! I just cancelled my vidangel account until something like this becomes available again. Unfortunately, that might not be until this petty lawsuit is over (in vidangel’s favor hopefully).

    3. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE the new model!

      I’m foaming at the mouth for when VidAngel will work with my Vudu!!!

      I almost check daily hoping it’ll come soon!

      We got rid of Netflix and Hulu because of all the trash.

      It pains me to rent a movie that I already own on Vudu…

  4. I agree whole heartedly with Neal’s announcement to be able to disable auto play feature. Television can be a fun diversion, but auto playing of next episode takes it a step further and for many people, encourages them to check out of reality.
    Surely Americans can do better with our lives than binge watching.
    If you need some suggestions, Then you aren’t trying hard enough.
    Thank you Vid angel for providing a much needed check to the corporate plans to keep us addicted to their product.

  5. Great idea to halve the ability to turn off or on auto play!

    I don’t know if this is the proper place to ask questions about other features, but I’m curious…

    Is it possible to have a feature like Netflix has to be able to download certain videos in cases of no data/wifi service, so I can watch my movies ‘off grid’???

    Also wondering if there is a plan to make more Netflix and Amazon Originals available for filtering?

      1. It’s not likely you’ll ever be able to download a filtered version for offline viewing. Remember, no fixed altered copies allowed.

  6. Def not a fan of the Autoplay. It does promote unhealthy behaviors in individuals and families. I think disabling it is a great bonus.

    Not a fan of the word “Binge” either and how it has become a positive thing. Consider whether or not VidAngel wants to promote Binge on its website with slogans like “Get your Binge On” instead of promoting moderation.

    Your call, just my opinion. Still love your service and the benefit it is to our family. Keep up the good fight!

  7. I like the idea of a toggle (on/off) for the auto-play feature. If someone doesn’t want it turned on, they can turn it off. If they want it on, they can turn it on. A few seconds of inconvenience to turn something on or off is much better than a choice that is forced upon you. Thank you for always thinking of the family.

  8. Bring on FULL RICH SURROUND SOUND. My receiver cries every time a VidAngel flick plays because it is just old school stereo. I end up saving most shows for when I am traveling and on headphones – because watching them at home is so disappointing. Audio = Quality

    1. We were moments away from launching this on the old system before we were shut down. We had it working in test environments. Then we got seriously set back. We’ve done some research on the new system and we think we know a path to get it back. We’ll keep you posted. I want this too.

  9. When YouTube updates. The first thing I do is turn off auto play. For the same reason as stated in the email. The kids want to keep watching then i turn into the hulk and threaten to smash the tv if the don’t get off. Then I get hooked and keep watching H-2-O. It’s those dang storylines that are so involved ;-).
    Anywho the auto play button is a must. I’m getting tired of having to by new clothes.

  10. Choice. In all of life we make choices – some good – some not so good. I fully appreciate that you all are giving more choices regarding the autoplay feature. As a family, we are sadly very guilty of binge watching. While no one is holding us hostage to viewing with the autoplay feature in place, choosing to turn it off it will definitely give us a pause to make a better choice. Thanks!

  11. I really hope that they are able to offer the plaintiffs’ content soon, because I loved Spider-Man: Homecoming but didn’t like the language.

  12. I like the auto play option, but not as a default to the service. I would prefer the option to turn it on and off at my discretion.

  13. Like another comment, I was an avid VidAngel user with the original platform. I also bought VidAngel stock. But, I have not continued with VidAngel as the new platform is not something that offers what was originally a great option. I do not want another monthly subscription charge on top of Netflix, and what-ever else I need to supply a limited amount of content. The movie selection is not good at this time. I am sorry as I hope you win in court but the present situation offers little and costs too much.
    Jim A.

  14. Great work guys 🙂

    I would like to see better administration of my filters. I would like to be able to set my default filters globally so that I don’t have to set my filters whenever I watch a movie.

    I’m sure parents would also like to have children’s accounts where they can set the minimum filters for their children.

  15. I think having the option is great. I also think the default setting should be having the autoplay turned off. Then people who want the temptation to binge can turn it on. 🙂 Though, I am curious how the filters will work with autoplay. People would have to select the filters for a bunch of episodes beforehand, right?

  16. I’m more interested in adding vudu/ultraviolet filtering than I am an autoplay feature or even subtitles. It would unlock a huge personal library of digital content. I know it’s something you’re working on in addition to other platforms. Are you able to share a prioritization of projects you’re working on?

  17. This is what makes your service so great. Being willing to give the end user options is great. When it is just my wife and I watching at times, auto-play is useful, other times, perhaps not. Having an option period continues to support your mission to let people watch how they wish in their homes and circumstance. Another great move. Keep the battle going too, I think their hope is to strong arm up front and hope it goes away, the more you keep this out there, the more likely to have a win, or better yet, have Congress intervene and update the language in the original act.

  18. Love the idea of controlling AutoPlay. Thanks for helping my family be a little more disciplined in our viewing habits.

    Good luck with the continuing legal battle!

  19. I like the option of the “enable autoplay” feature, though it is not the top of my priority list. I like autoplay mostly for my kids so when I am exercising, I don’t have to stop to pick a new show for them.
    Something I would like to see is access to filters for my VUDU library–that would be great!
    I would also love to see “add to watchlist” feature for shows (not just movies). On that note, I’d love to see an option to have more than one watchlist–so I can make one for the younger kids who won’t be viewing more mature content.
    Appreciate what you’re doing–keep it up!

  20. I really am disappointed with the out come of the last court
    I miss your old service. I don’t take time to use your current service since
    I would have to have Netflix or Hulu. I try to keep up to date on the court
    Case hopping you can start the movie filtering again.
    Thx

  21. I fo sho don’t wan’t autoplay on vidangel, I hate that feature on Netflix, I’m always scrambling for the remote so I can exit out before it starts a new episode and messes up my saved watching location.

  22. You guys are doing great! One parental control feature that I would love to see would be the ability to have separate profiles based on who is watching. So we can have a certain set of filters when just my wife and I are watching, but a separate set of filters when we are watching something with our kids. Thanks!

  23. Honestly? I would just like to access movies from VidAngel on our Roku devices because nothing ever works. We invested $1000 in this company as stock purchase and I’ve yet to watch anything since you had to pull the main site.

  24. I think giving users the option to enable/disable features like autoplay is just good product development. Too many applications nowadays are going the opposite way, taking away flexibility (I guess in the name of user friendliness…??) and forcing users into the preferred usage of the owning company. Props to Vidangel for putting the customer first!

  25. Autoplay: Doesn’t matter to us.
    Subtitles: Would be terrific for my hearing-impaired wife.

    But the BIGGIE for us is a PER-USE payment model. This was one of the BIG differentiators between VA and the evil ClearPlay. TWO BUCKS PER USE beats any monthly subscription for us, based on our usage profile.

  26. I like the ability to choose auto-play or not. If the streaming providers (Netflix, Amazon, etc) eventually require auto-play to get their blessing, then I can live with it.

  27. I prefer to have auto-play off with the option to turn it on. We loved the original VidAngel, but understand that things beyond your control took place. The new VidAngel is a great product. Our family appreciates all the time and effort you all are putting into it!!

  28. Maybe you could build a database of producers, directors, actors etc. and their Twitter handles so when a viewer finishes watching a show they can tweet them something like, “The filtered version of your work was amazing!”

    Keep up the good work Neal + VidAngel Team!

  29. I really like having the filters in my Roku app but I desperately need the filters to be under a parental lock…I keep catching my kids in there and the thought terrifies me that they have free reign of the filters…not to mention just reading the filters can be more than I want them to know…

    1. Has this changed? I assumed this would be a feature! Vidangel may not be for us if the filters can’t be locked. And that would make me so sad… 🙁

  30. I love the freedom of choice. Confirms the principles the company was founded on and why I love the service. Great work VidAngel team!

  31. I want the ability in series to start off where I left off. Not remembering is always a struggle. I don’t like auto-play, but I do like going back later and playing where I was last in the series. Also the search feature doesn’t search very well for movies I am looking for. it often just turns black on my roku app.

    1. I totally agree. We’re working on this feature. It will be a continue watching category that shows all the shows and movies you’ve started and where you’ve left off. One click to get back into it.

  32. Autoplay option is a good idea. More options is always better than less.

    Big question about investors (I am one): if the court case goes south, but the new service takes off, are the old investors going to be shrugged off or will we get rewarded for our faith in the company?

  33. I was frustrated to rent a movie on Amazon, that was available on VidAngel, only to go watch it and find out it’s a movie that’s not available. It should show it’s not available.

  34. I like the ability to choose for my family! Companies that offer more selections and decrease the amount of obligated consumption seem to thrive in our new world of “curated” selections. Just like Sling TV lets you watch ESPN without having to buy 200+ other channels of garbage like DirectTV and Dish require.

  35. We rather like auto-play of next episode. We’ve never had a problem stopping ourselves or our children from watching the next episode. I do like how in one of the streaming services, I can’t remember which one, when it auto-starts the next episode, it skips the title sequence so long as it doesn’t lose any pre-title sequence content.

    Also, another huge feature for us would be the ability to see trailers. We often start in Amazon for that reason, even if watching something available on NetFlix.

  36. We would love the option for subtitles. With lots of kiddos in our home, when we watch movies as a family, there is often a little kid making noise, making it hard for the older kids to hear. So we always put on the subtitles so no one is angry with someone else for being too noisy. But when we watch with VidAngel, we lose that feature. I would also like the summaries to be available again when we hover over a movie title. Now we have to click into it in order to just read what the movie is about.

  37. I love the idea of an auto-play toggle. I will echo what others have said, though, in that I wish there was a per-use method of payment. My husband and I rarely watch movies, and when we do, there’s about a four out of five chance that the movie we watch won’t need filtering anyway. We don’t want to pay $7.99 a month for a service we only really use once every few months, and even if we just subscribed whenever we were in a mood to watch, say, Jason Bourne, that’s pretty steep, considering we’re basically paying that much for one movie (since it will most likely run out before we watch another one). A $2 fee (in addition to renting the movie from Amazon) is much more feasible than $8 + rental fees.

    Also, is it possible to view all available filters without a subscription? Because it would be a bummer to subscribe so you could watch something specific, only to realize what you wanted to watch isn’t available.

  38. Filtering is a necessity for films that pop culture is tempting our children with but allowing for the debauchery to be withheld for more mature audiences. This helps to support the movie industry by selling a movie that can be filtered other than just not buying the movie. We get the pop culture experience and fun stories without the inappropriate content.

    I have been a long time user of VidAngel from renting to the new streaming services connected to Netflix and Amazon. The new streaming mask is way more appealing so I can keep my Amazon library intact. I love this new service. Keep it up …. fight all the way to the Supreme Court!

    THANKS VIDANGEL for providing we the parents with palatable options!

  39. It would be nice to have this a configurable option, as a parent. While this would be a nice feature, in the realm of what’s really important I would rate this further down on the list. Content filtering is the major objective for our family and the further out this reaches into various movies and even televised content, the better.

    Thank you for continuing to push for what is right for 100% of households, which is letting homes choose what they want/don’t want to allow

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