All posts by Neal Harmon

VidAngel Native iOS app for the iPhone or iPad or iPod Touch (beta)

UPDATE: 8/28/2015:   Our iOS app is live and in the App Store!   Download it now!

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We’re happy to announce our VidAngel beta iOS app! With the app, you can stream purchased movies and TV shows on your iPhone, iPad or iPod. You can also cast to your TV via your Chromecast or Apple TV (using AirPlay). We’re working with Apple to enable purchasing within our app, but currently you can stream only movies or TV shows already purchased on the VidAngel website.

(8/25 – You don’t need these directions anymore.  Simply go to the App Store and download our app)    Since the iOS app is in beta, we’ll need to add you to the beta group if you’d like to try it before it’s published in the App Store (it’s so much better than streaming via Safari because you can Chromecast and the player remembers where you were on AirPlay). Here are instructions on how to get VidAngel on your device:

  1. Send your Apple ID (It is an email address) to support@vidangel.com so that we can add you as a beta participant.
  2. Download Apple’s TestFlight app to your mobile device from the App Store.
  3. You will receive an email from Apple with a link to download the VidAngel app once you are added as a beta participant.
  4. Once you receive the beta invitation in email, click on the link provided by Apple and the TestFlight app will open with a button to download the VidAngel beta app.

Enjoy!

UPDATE:  Subtitles are fixed on all devices

Known issue: while subtitles are working with Chromecast, we’re working on a solution for Apple TV. We look forward to other feedback.

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American Sniper and Bug Fixes

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We have had more requests for American Sniper than any other movie. We had it tagged in advance for the May 19th DVD/Blu-Ray release but the content publishing process for VidAngel is surprisingly time-consuming (took 12 hours for the first pass, which had mistakes).

We test the movies on Android, iOS, Roku, Chromecast, Apple TV, and desktop before allowing them to go live.

Because yesterday our hosting provider moved us to faster server infrastructure, but also changed our version of PHP without letting us know. These changes introduced bugs into our system.

We ended up having to make three passes to get it right (we found an issue on Chromecast, one missed profanity and a handful of partial profanities). We have a high standard of quality for new movies published on VidAngel. If we find a single missed profanity, we do not publish the movie.

As you can tell by the publish time of this post (2am), we worked around the clock to get this blockbuster to you properly reviewed and bug free.

There is a silver lining in the slightly tardy publishing of American Sniper. We also discovered through the process a bug that has been plaguing many users recently. It is the bug where only the VidAngel bumper shows up, but the movie never plays. We fixed the elusive bug.

Watch American Sniper in HD for $2 (with sell-back) now.

Why did VidAngel Publish Fifty Shades of Gray, Wolf of Wall Street and Game of Thrones?

UPDATE [9/29/2015]: We’ve just released a new feature that allows you to hide any movie on the VidAngel website. We will soon be extending this feature out to apps. This gives you and me more control over our VidAngel experience.

ORIGINAL: This is a question we’re commonly asked and that we were forced to ask ourselves before we decided to build VidAngel. In the beginning, as we grappled with this issue, we decided not to make VidAngel a moral authority for other people, but to create a community that empowers a broad range of people, cultures, moralities to be able to make better media decisions.

Personally, based on what I’ve heard, these movies seem like pornography with a story line. And the research about pornography and its impact on society is very well documented at Fight the New Drug. I don’t know if these have any story line left after being filtered, but the community seems to think so.

Even though VidAngel can cut out graphic sex, violence and profanity, that does not make a movie worth watching.

Check the tags of these movies and you’ll be able to quickly see if it matches your own personal standards. They absolutely don’t match mine. As a founder of VidAngel, I do not recommend these movies to families, even with a filter.

In fact, personally, I choose not to watch much of the content on VidAngel due to the nature of the movies. I’m kind of simple, but I really like movies that uplift me.

Here’s a reminder about VidAngel’s principles:

VidAngel Stands Against:

Justification To Watch More Bad Content:
If the content of the movie as a whole is against your standards, don’t use VidAngel to justify watching it.

Forced Censorship:
What you watch should be your choice in your home. Your neighbor will likely have different standards than you, and that is okay as long as you and your family don’t have to watch what everyone else watches.

No “Taking One For The Team”:
As a member of the VidAngel community, you agree to only participate in tagging movies/videos you would already watch without filtering. There are always other people who have different standards willing to filter the harder content. The ends don’t justify the means.

VidAngel Stands For:

More Choice:
VidAngel gives families a larger library of good content to choose from without compromising your family standards.

Watching More Good Content:
There are lots of films that have great messages, but often the filmmakers might have a different set of standards than you do. That’s okay. VidAngel allows you to enjoy the parts of their content you agree with, not worrying about breaking your own family rules.

To Summarize:
Members of the VidAngel community decided they wanted to tag these movies. They had already chosen to watch the movies in theaters or on HBO before they choose to tag them.

If a movie is released that no one in our community is willing to watch before tagging, then that movie will never be published on VidAngel. There’s no taking one for the team, period.

But I personally will never let my own family near this content and lots of other content. A lot of people would say I’m over the top. And for many, I am. But because I want the right to choose to watch both what and how I want, I also want to afford that right to others. Others will choose for themselves.

VidAngel is about empowering families and individuals to be able to make better content decisions, even if that means choosing not to watch movies with a filter.

Of course, we’re open to improving our policies based on community feedback.

Best regards,
– Neal Harmon, VidAngel Founder

Report on Fixes to VidAngel Private BETA

smartphones   Time for an update on our progress with the new VidAngel. The team has been furiously solving problems, and while it seems way too slow to us, we look at the issues we’ve solved over the past month and we are thrilled with how much ground we’ve covered!

If a problem you faced isn’t noted in here please comment below and ask us about it, there is a good chance we got it fixed, but forgot to put it in the this report:

set_top_boxesROKU 2, 3, AND STICK

  • VidAngel now works on Roku 2, 3, AND STICK
  • We fixed the stalling problem.
  • Sell-back no longer shows an error.
  • Roku 1 is not supported yet.
  • We are working on a parental password (expected next week)
  • We are also working on search for next week.

tabletsAPPLE TV, iPHONE, iPAD, iPOD

  • Moved from mirroring to airplay in HD using iPhone, iPad or iPod.
  • Created a quick how to video for Apple TV.
  • Purchased titles were not showing up in library on iPhone and iPad for up to 10 mins has been resolved.

CHROMECAST + NEXUS PLAYERHDTVs

  • We solved the white screen “brainfreeze” issue.
  • We created a how to video for Chromecast.
  • We have tested Nexus Player on VidAngel and it works! You can use it with Chromecast.

LAPTOP AND DESKTOP

We still haven’t got these running perfect but we made a few fixes.

  • We added an alternate player to use until we find out why our main player is freezing.
  • We solved the stalling problem in the alternate player

Thanks again for all of your patience and reporting these bugs to us! This has been a good start.

Better Customer Support

During our company meeting this morning, we reviewed the state of customer feedback and everyone made it really clear we have a few things we can improve on.

We are making a TON of changes and you need updates on known bugs and when we are fixing them. Too much has been falling through the cracks. You have been wonderful in sending us feedback on  after-movie-surveys, blog comments, movie comments, filter feedback, twitter feeds, Facebook posts and the support email.  Unfortunately those all went to different places and with our little team we weren’t able to keep up with all the comments. Some people had to wait a long time for support to respond. For this we are sorry and we will do better.

Today we decided we’d had enough and spent a day to integrate all forms of communication into ONE system. Now your comments on our blog, your feedback on the filters and all other communication will be tracked, followed-up on, and measured for your satisfaction so that we know how we’re doing.

Here’s a report on how the last week has gone with the new system test. We’ll follow up in March to see how we’re improving.

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MARCH UPDATE: Our numbers for resolving problems got better in March, however our Average first reply time got three hours worse (this is because we went back and contacted a bunch of customers from the last 12 months who were interested in the Roku and going back months threw our numbers out of wack).

The ratio of Awesome and OK Replies to Bad Replies went from 12 to 1 to 13.5 to 1. That’s a little bit of improvement. However, the best news is that the number of tickets to the number of movies watched is dropping. This means more people are getting an experience where they don’t need to contact support. We will keep at it and report on April results as well. Thanks to our customers for helping us improve the private beta program.

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Global Settings BETA

We’ve heard many requests to be able to set up your settings one time and have them work from movie to movie.

We have been testing global settings for some time and we’re ready for your feedback. Try out the new global settings here.

These global settings will set up your favorite defaults, but you can still tweak an individual movie as you like without changing your global settings.

Let us know what you think.

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Customers are asking why we’re so quiet on our blog :)

We’re glad you miss us.

We spoke with a customer named Bryce on the phone today and he said, “I was so excited about you guys’ passion and then I looked at your blog and there was not an update since August. I started to worry you’re loosing steam.”

Bryce, anything but that. We’ve actually had our heads down working on a new version of VidAngel that we are going to love around here (and we think you’ll all like it too). It is a HUGE improvement on our current experience (and being privately tested now). We’ll be giving more and more customers a sneak peak over the coming months.

We’re so grateful for everyone’s support! And we’ll try to post a few cool things in the interim.

Thanks!
Team VidAngel

HD Video Coming

We’re getting through to YouTube and Google; Paintball video still blocked

After petitioning our personal contacts at Google and after our customers have flooded the Google forums with requests, last week two of our videos (How it works for movies and How to use VidAngel) became available in Safety mode.

This is great progress!

Now, it’s just the the paintball video and the behind the scenes video that need to be unblocked.

We need your help!

The only way these videos reach families is if YOU share the videos directly on Facebook or in email. They can not be found when families with safety mode search for them on Google or YouTube.

VidAngel’s Family Friendly Message Is Blocked From Reaching Families On Youtube

UPDATE: YouTube Refuses To Unblock VidAngel’s Videos From “Safety Mode”

UPDATE: YouTube unblocks two videos from “Safety Mode”; Paintball video still blocked

With 700k views in 5 days, YouTube “Safety Mode” is currently blocking families (or anyone with “safety mode” turned on) from seeing our viral ad promoting awareness about the rise of inappropriate content in media. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there; our entire YouTube channel appears to be affected. We suspect this is being caused by trolls or haters flagging our videos as inappropriate content despite its family centric message and G/PG rated content. It seems Youtube provides no quick solution to getting these problems fixed, and thus jeopardizes our entire marketing campaign because our message is being censored from the very people it’s meant for.

Families (with “safety mode”) are Blocked From Finding VidAngel’s Video in Search:

  1. Go to www.youtube.com
  2. Near the bottom of the page, click on Safety: OFF and select Safety: ON
  3. Reload www.youtube.com and search for “vidangel family paintballs
  4. Note that VidAngel’s main video, with over 700k views, DOES NOT show up in the results (only reuploads of the video).
  5. This also blocks it from spreading in the YouTube algorithm among families who care about Safety Mode.

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Now, to make it show again:

  1. Go to www.youtube.com
  2. Near the bottom of the page, click on Safety: ON and select Safety: OFF
  3. Reload www.youtube.com and search for “vidangel family paintballs
  4. Note that VidAngel’s main video, with over 700k views, ONLY shows up in the results when Safety Mode is OFF!

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VidAngel’s message uses paintball markers, exhaustive safety measures (see behind the scenes) and G/PG rated type action to make a powerful point against swearing, promiscuity, and graphic violence in media. The video is about parents right to control what and how they watch media in their own homes.  This family-message is now being censored similar to graphic sex scenes, graphic violence and other un-family-friendly content.

ALL but one of VidAngel’s Videos Are Censored:

If you visit VidAngel’s channel you will see that YouTube isn’t just blocking our viral paintball hit but all of our videos except one:

SAFETY MODE ON:

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SAFETY MODE OFF:

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Examples of Content NOT Blocked (compared with blocked VidAngel content):

VidAngel’s Videos Are Blocked From Families Not Censored On YouTube
Main video Game of Thrones Death
VidAngel Video Promoting Awareness about the rise Profanity, Violence, and Promiscuity in film. Disturbing and graphic Game of Thrones Death Scenes with over 300k views
how it works Assasins Creed Trailer
VidAngel How it works video without any paintballs markers at all. Assassin’s Creed Trailer LITERAL with graphic violence and gore.
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Behind The Scenes for VidAngel going over the MANY safety precautions used in filming with paintball markers A couple of guys playing the FIFA video game, using the F-word and shooting each other with a paintball gun with no safety equipment. Almost 6 million views.

75% Drop In Conversion Rates

VidAngel’s target audience is everyone who uses “Safety Mode” on YouTube.  Instead our video is now only reaching those who don’t care to even use YouTube safety features, let alone the more robust safety features of VidAngel.  We are still going viral but the crowd we are trying to reach is being blocked. We have seen our conversion rates drop sharply by 75% after the 24th of July when the censoring began.

Dislikes Have Increased by 300%

Because the video is being blocked from our target audience we have seen a massive decline in our likes to dislikes ratio.

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How Many Marketing Campaigns Is “Safety Mode” Destroying?

We are aware that this kind of censoring can be triggered by haters gaming the YouTube feedback system to get VidAngel blocked. We assume this is the case as our video could easily be displayed on national TV. In addition The Piano Guys, one of the most family friendly YouTube channels on the Internet, posted our video to their Facebook page and had a 400% better response than their average post.

the-piano-guys-screenshot for blogpost regarding safety mode

 

 

Unfortunately this kind of mistake in YouTube’s system can completely destroy months of work and lots of money invested in a large viral marketing campaign. We hope YouTube will remedy this ASAP. This issue is not limited to VidAngel, but MANY marketing campaigns where enough haters ban together to get an ad censored in safety mode.

This also shows the need of a system like VidAngel on YouTube for parental controls that actually work.

Help us get “Every Word Has Impact” out of Safety Mode. We opened a support request on YouTube’s support forum. Please post a quick reply here to let YouTube know you would like this problem fixed. We hope that with your help we can get the attention needed to resolve this ASAP. If anyone is aware of a quicker solution, please contact us at press@vidangel.com. Thank you for your support!

 

UPDATE: YouTube Refuses To Unblock VidAngel’s Videos From “Safety Mode”

47 percent of Parents are likely to use VidAngel

With our paintball video campaign, we’re getting a lot of questions, one of which is where is the data on almost half of families wanting our service. Well, here it is.

We surveyed 900 Americans using Google Consumer Surveys and asked them if they had children or teenagers at home. Then we asked them this question:

YouTube vs Movies Survey Summary

 

We’re building VidAngel for that 47 percent who are likely or very likely to use software that filters swearing and other inappropriate content out of streaming movies.