Category Archives: Platform Support

Full Roku App is Back! (BETA)

To our loyal VidAngel customers,

 

I am coming to the end of my 7th year working on the engineering side of VidAngel, and to say it’s been a difficult road would be putting it mildly. But I don’t need to tell that to  any of you. I know from the hundreds of films and television episodes I’ve watched with my family that the technical experience of finding and viewing content on VidAngel always seems to trend somewhere between glitchy and impossible.

We are on the 6th iteration of trying to make families and the studios happy! We want to focus less on litigation and more on our customers.

Even with the herculean efforts of our technical teams, we realize that over the past few months things have changed for the worse, and it’s because we’ve failed on a couple fundamental tasks:

 

1)    We lost our focus on the transparency you need in order to trust us, and

2)    We have given your feedback about the direction our products are going far less weight than  we should have. 

 

So, as we try to right the ship as an engineering company, I thought it would be helpful to first give a bit of background. We often get questions asking how our technology works, and while every detail is publicly available, it isn’t an easy follow. So let’s change that.

 

For example, in order to watch a Netflix or Amazon title on VidAngel, we have to verify you have the rights, through one of those services, to view it. And in order to verify those rights, our systems need to “talk” with the systems from Amazon or Netflix. This works just like a web browser … in fact, it is a web browser. When you hit the “play” button in VidAngel, we create a web browser in the cloud that uses your specific Netflix or Amazon account to navigate to that title. From there we verify that your subscription is still active,  you’ve paid your rental/purchase fee, you’re in the right geographic location, or any other requirement that might be in place for you to legally be able to watch Amazon and Netflix content (and thus filter it).

 

Neither Amazon or Netflix is in the filtering business, and they have a vested interest in building their apps in ways that work for their goals, needs, and customers, without regard for what effects changes might have on a system like I described above. Changes to their websites may have adverse effects on how VidAngel’s systems communicate with those of Netflix or Amazon.

 

This would not be an issue if we did not always ask Amazon and Netflix if you have access to watch the content. We have taken enormous and continual care to prevent people from watching any title with VidAngel filters when these verifications aren’t rock solid. We know that, if we want the media industry to believe we are fighting for the individual and family right to watch however works best for them, we need to respect the decisions they make about their products and content as well. And this is one of the major reasons why the VidAngel playback experience is often so up-and-down. 

 

This brings us to the middle of March, just several months ago when we were at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. At some point early in that month, Amazon Prime Video deployed a change to their systems that fundamentally altered our ability to verify our customers’ rights to legally watch and filter a title from Amazon’s services. This in no way means that we had been doing anything improper or untoward, or even that we’d been using our cloud browsers to navigate their site incorrectly.It was just a change they needed to make, and we were faced with a choice. We could turn off our Amazon filtering services until we had adjusted them to work with their changes (given that choosing to operate and serve Amazon content without verifying every single user ownership was never an option we would consider), or we could accelerate the rollout of a new product we’d been working on, one that communicated with Amazon and Netflix’s apps through your mobile phone rather than through a browser in the cloud.

 

Out of expediency, we chose the latter option. We had been working on the prototypes for several months already, and we wanted to get it into the hands of our customers as quickly as possible. Our new app is different in many ways, but one of the most crucial differences is that, by using your phone and your home wifi network, we can communicate even more clearly with Netflix and Amazon as to who is requesting to watch and filter a given title. It also opens the door for a wide range of your most requested  features to be developed, like community-based filters, closed caption and multilingual filtering, profile-based “allow/block” lists, and offline, “DVR-like” viewing/filtering. 

 

And this is how we found ourselves, VidAngelists, in a situation where we were offering a beta mobile app, a web app that only worked with Netflix, and some broken television apps that my 6-year-old daughter whined about whenever she discovered, every morning, that she could no longer watch Shrek on her “Rokuangel” (as I force her to call it).

 

We are committed to keeping you as informed as we can about our company’s direction. We also need your feedback to help guide that direction, which leads me to address a second question in my final few paragraphs: how can we at VidAngel take our fingers out of our ears and better listen to our customers?

 

Our television casting feature, a core feature of our new mobile apps, is something I’m very passionate about. Casting was what brought me to VidAngel, and after 6 and a half years, when we rolled out our new casting technology that can  talk to any family’s devices, I remember saying to myself, “This is incredible. Why would anyone ever want to install an app on their Roku or Apple TV again? You can do it all from your phone!” Yet now, with hindsight that’s 20/20, I realize I wasn’t really seeing the forest for the trees. Many of you don’t want to use the phone as your remote. Whether it’s because you’re like me and have younger kids who want to start their own shows, or you have teenagers who you can’t trust to set their filters properly, or you just want to relax on the couch, distraction free while your phone is in the other room, we hear your complaints. Thank you for your feedback over the past few months and telling us how important your specific VidAngel viewing experience is.

 

With that said, we’ve made a monumental push over the past few weeks and are now able to release two significant new(ish) products:

 

1)    An updated, still-a-work-in-progress-but-getting-there, version of the VidAngel Roku app that can work with your mobile device. This way you can, after a one-time sync between the two devices, browse, search, and watch on Roku the way you’ve always done in the past, with full access sans your mobile phone, you can find out more details at https://www.vidangel.com/roku and 

2)  A new chrome extension that will restore full access to enable your computer to connect to streaming services (no mobile syncing required!) and watch right in a browser.

 

Additionally, we are already hard at work to bring the same new features to the AppleTVs, FireTVs, and Android TVs out there.

 

Your patience is much appreciated, but even more so we appreciate your trust. We want to continue to make entertainment good for your home, and we can only do that once we’ve proven we deserve a place in  your home in the first place. 

 

Jarom McDonald

VP of Research and Innovation

VidAngel

Letter to Shareholders

May 5, 2020

 

Friends of VidAngel,

VidAngel exists to help you make entertainment good for your home. 

What is good for each of our homes is a personal choice. We’ve long known the motto “Be our guest.” At VidAngel, we believe “We’re your guest.” 

After all, it’s your home.

You choose how to watch. In 2013, we started developing software that was essentially a pre-programmed streaming remote. We have now gone through 6 successive attempts to build your skipping software. In each iteration, we hit a wall. We were sued over iteration number four, struggled through bankruptcy, and today Disney continues to oppose iteration number 6. We’re continuing to push through that for you, and in the meantime, we’re providing access to arguably the most exciting content of the COVID-19 era, produced by Netflix, Amazon and other streaming services. Watch however the BLEEP you want.

You choose what we make. In 2017, armed with the data around the skip choices families are making, we launched Dry Bar Comedy. Over 300 comedians have now performed, fine-tuning their sets to the audience and receiving  bonuses for better serving you. Additionally, with the help of 19,000 of you, we funded, produced, and distributed the award-winning dramatic series The Chosen

And you have responded. In April 2020, our business generated 5X the revenue of our skipping software pre-injunction. Dry Bar has over 2 billion views. The Chosen is offered globally, in dozens of languages, has tens of millions of views, and millions of dollars in revenue via its own app. It has been the #1 series on VidAngel for months. 

We hear you. 

Five. Times. Revenue.

 

So what’s next?

After emerging from bankruptcy (we hope during the June 18, 2020 confirmation hearing), we plan to raise up to $50 million to grow VidAngel. 

Our goal with these funds will be:

  1. Give our loyal investors, without whom we would not exist today, a chance to liquidate some of their shares (some people may need cash due to COVID-19 and won’t be able to wait for a potentially larger return). 
  2. Back many more creator projects, like The Chosen and Dry Bar Comedy, by building creator tools for:
    • – daily financial reporting and monthly payments (currently quarterly)
    • – better audience interaction (e.g. live streams, merchandise, uploads, notifications)
    • – creator cross-promotion (i.e. a simple way for The Chosen and Dry Bar to promote new creators’ projects with their massive audiences)
  3. Build better control over more content, allowing you, for example, to:
    • – find the very best content to watch or the best future content to back (rather than the primary focus being on skipping objectionable content)
    • – say exactly what kids are allowed to browse (specific list of approved titles with pre-set skips)
    • – watch with skips without having to wait for us to tag it (say hello to SkipBot and community made skips)

Thank you for trusting VidAngel as a guest in your home. We aim to build an entertainment company that centers around your kingdom, not ours. The best days are yet ahead.

 

Onward,

Neal Harmon

Co-founder and CEO

 

Click here for VidAngel’s SEC Reports

How VidAngel’s New Service Works

How VidAngel’s New Service Works

How to watch filtered HD movies for $2 on VidAngel + Frequently Asked Questions

Friends have been asking a load of questions about how VidAngel sell back works. Everyone who gets it LOVES it because you can save $200 per year compared to the old VidAngel on streaming filtered movies. But it takes a little education to understand.

For us to legally offer filtered movies, you must own the movie while filtering it.  To make this as affordable and user-friendly as possible, we have created an instant “Sell-Back” option to buy the movie back from you and put the credit into your VidAngel account.  No hassle, no fuss, just enjoy your movie, sell it back, and only pay $2.00 for your HD movie.

We made this video that will help you learn how it works in just a minute and a half:

Quick Overview: (using a $20 movie)

  1. BUY THE MOVIE – Pay the retail price of $20. (initial credit card payment)
  2. WATCH FOR $2.00 – $2.00 (per day for HD movies) is deducted from the $20 credit.  $1.00 per day for SD or Television shows.
  3. SELL THE MOVIE – When finished, “Sell it Back” for $18.00 of instant credit to your VidAngel account for your next purchase.

When you’re ready for the next movie, the credit already in your VidAngel account will automatically be applied to your purchase. Continue to buy and sell movies with account credit and pay only $2.00 per HD movie.  If you always buy and sellback within 24 hours, then all future credit card transactions will be the $2.00 watch price.

Other Frequently Asked Questions: 

What if I want to keep my movie? 
Here’s how it works for HD:
Sell back the movie within 24 hours it’s $2, up to 48 hours is $4
up to 72 hours is $6, etc

Until you reach the purchase price.  At which point you own the movie.  Once you own it, it will always be in your VidAngel vault to enjoy whenever you would like.   If you decide you have kept your purchased movie long enough and don’t want to watch it anymore – you also have the option to sell it back in exchange for a Free Movie Night.

Can I ever use all my credit? 
Absolutely. You can keep buying and selling movies or Television episodes.   Also, if you decide to keep a movie, it will use up your credit. However, if you always sell back for credit, then you will always have more credit to use next time.

Why can’t I just rent movies? 
It is not legal for VidAngel to rent movies to you.

Does my Credit ever expire? 
NO – Your credit never expires.  You can take as long as you like to spend it, or binge watch your favorite TV show and use it all in one weekend.

Why don’t you automatically refund my credit card?
Great Question!  We have worked hard to find the best and most cost-effective option for our customers to follow the legal law of owning their movie while filtering it.   Most of our customers watch a new movie every weekend.   The refund process from our credit card company takes 7-10 days.  Meaning, you could be spending even more than ever because you would have your original purchase pending a refund, and then a new charge for the next movie.  We don’t want you double charged and waiting for refunds.  The refund method was simply not a practical option for 99% of our customers.   Not to mention if we refunded every single transaction we ever received, our credit card company would eventually drop our account – and if that happened you couldn’t enjoy your fantastic filtered movies.

Can I ever turn my credits back into cash?
Of course! If you decide you have finished using VidAngel you can cash-out your remaining credits. It takes 7-10 business days to receive the funds back to your card, so you don’t want to choose this unless you know you’re done watching movies with VidAngel.    (Any taxes, gifted credit, or promotional credit are not eligible for cash-out)

If you still have questions, or want to the Long Version that includes “How To” instructions, here you go:

Super Thorough step by step guide with instructions: 

  1. Find the movie you would like to watch and select it.
  2. Click “Buy Now” and choose to store the DVD or Blu-ray in your VidAngel Vault and continue.
  3. Select your HD or SD option and enter your credit card information.
  4. Voila! You can now enjoy your movie!
  5. Once you’re finished, you can quickly sell your movie back, and we will instantly apply your movie credit to your VidAngel account.
  6. For your convenience, there are four different ways to do this:
    1. The easiest option, is to check the Auto-Sellback box when you purchase your movie.  It will sell it back as soon as your movie ends, and you don’t even need to lift a finger.
    2. At any time during the movie you have a sell back icon in the top left corner of your movie screen.
    3. Once your movie ends – A sell-back box pops up on your screen reminding you to sell back.
    4. At any time, you can select the title in your “My Movies” dashboard to sell it back or confirm a sell-back if you are unsure:  http://www.vidangel.com/myvids/
    5. Lastly, should you forget to sell back a movie, you will receive sell-back reminder emails from us that contain a link to sell back your purchase.
  7. Once you have sold your movie back, you will see your VidAngel credit in your account.
  8. This credit will automatically apply to your next purchase, so no need to worry about forgetting to use it.
  9. You can view all your transactions in My Purchases: http://www.vidangel.com/myvids/

We know this explanation might be a bit long winded, but we want to be sure to answer every single question you have, so you are 100% comfortable using our service.

Thank you for using VidAngel!

VidAngel Now Works In HD On Chromecast and Apple TV! Here Is How It Works.

FINALLY! One year after launching VidAngel we now have crystal clear HD movies on Chromecast and Apple TV. It is called Angel HD. Roku and Amazon Fire TV are coming soon!

How To Use VidAngel On Chromecast

credit: the verge

How To Use VidAngel On Apple TV

Note: Angel HD is currently in BETA. If you don't have access yet, just be patient. You will get an invite in the coming weeks.

 

How To Use VidAngel On Apple TV With iPhone or iPad

Also See: How To Use VidAngel On Chromecast


LATEST: The VidAngel App is now available for tvOS and it does not require you to use AirPlay. Enjoy!
UPDATE: The VidAngel App is now in the App Store.  Once you purchase your movie from www.vidangel.com, then use the App to play the movie to your AppleTV.

STEP 1 – Select an Angel HD Movie

After you have setup your Apple TV , make sure you select an Angel HD title. YouTube titles will not play in HD or on Apple TV.

Angel HD titles are not YouTube titles

Note: Angel HD is currently in BETA. If you don't have access yet, just be patient. You will get an invite in the coming weeks.

STEP 2 – Setup Your Filters

Nothing new here. Just make sure you customize your experience just the way you want it.

STEP 3 – Turn On Airplay From Your iPhone or iPad

ON IPHONE: swipe up from the bottom of the phone and then select AirPlay.  Then select Apple TV and select Done.

IMG_0398

swipe up from the bottom and select AirPlay

 

IMG_0399

select Apple TV

ON IPAD: iPad is easier. Simply begin playing your movie and you will see the Apple TV icon in the bottom right corner of the video. Select the Apple TV icon and then scroll and select Apple TV. It will immediately begin playing your movie.

IMG_0463

Unlike on iPhone, on the iPad you can Start Playing Your Movie before turning on AirPlay/Apple TV

IMG_0464

After playing the movie, click on the AirPlay/Apple TV icon

 

IMG_0465

select Apple TV and the screen will go black when the TV starts showing your movie.

STEP 4 – iPhone ONLY. Press Play On Your Movie

ON IPHONE: Now for the easy part. Just click play on the movie and wait for it to load on your TV. You can now control your TV from your iPhone.

play your movie

play your movie

your screen will go dark and turn into a remote for your TV.

your screen will go dark and turn into a remote for your TV.

 

 

Also See: How To Use VidAngel On Chromecast

How To Use VidAngel On Your Chromecast

 Also See: Beta iOS app that works with Chromecast, VidAngel app on Google Play for Android, and How To Use VidAngel On Apple TV

STEP 1 – Install the Chrome

Install the Chrome browser, and then setup your Chromecast on your computer

STEP 2 – Setup Your Filters

Nothing new here. Just make sure you customize your experience just the way you want it.

STEP 3 – Click The Google Cast Button

There is a new Google Cast button in the bottom right corner of the screen. It sits just to the left of the Volume button.  If you don’t see this button, make sure you have installed Chromecast on your computer. Click here to learn how to install Chromecast.

Google Cast Button

STEP 4 – Select Your Chromecast

After clicking the Google Cast button you will see a box pop down in the top right corner of your browser. Select your Chromecast and your movie will automatically show up on your TV.

Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 11.11.58 PM

 

STEP 5 – Use Your Laptop As A Remote Control

You can now enjoy your movie and completely control your movie from your laptop! Enjoy the show.

 Also See: How To Use VidAngel On Apple TV

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.

SOLVED – “Video embedding disabled by request”

Great news every one – we’ve solved a HUGE technical hurdle at VidAngel.

“Video embedding disabled by request”

We all hate seeing that message at VidAngel. For example, many have complained that the new Hobbit movie is not yet available on VidAngel due to this same message. This message means that the content owner only wants the video to be seen on YouTube (not embedded into other websites).

In the past, movies with this message were impossible to tag at VidAngel because our tagging tool resides on VidAngel.com. No more. After nine months of research and work on our tagging tool, we’ve engineered a way to tag movies right inside of YouTube. See the screen shot below…

The Hobbit  The Desolation of Smaug   YouTube With this announcement, we’re pleased to release the availability of two highly requested movies:

The YouTube.com tagging tool is in alpha stage and we plan to release it to our top tagging community within the next week or so.  This means that many of your favorite missing movies will become available for tagging.

Eventually, after getting our tagging community’s feedback, the tool will become user-friendly enough that it will be made available to anyone with the VidAngel plugin (even subscribers). Then, if we don’t tag your favorite movies, shows or videos that you want to share with your family, you can tag them yourselves! Or, if a movie is not tagged as well as you would like it to be, you can take care of that problem as well 🙂