Vidangel is an online platform through which users can rent movies and TV shows for an affordable price ($1-2 per title) and add customized filters to remove content they deem explicit. As explained by the CEO, Vidangel’s vision is to capture the untapped market of family viewers who have not yet watched certain videos due to graphic content:
Hollywood is always trying to reach more viewers by cutting [its] films for different audiences: There’s the Theatrical Cut, the Director’s Cut, the Airline and Broadcast Cut for the FCC, the Middle Eastern cut for Islam, and fan cuts like people uploading [select] scenes from Game of Thrones to YouTube. It seems like there’s a cut for everyone. But one major group was missing, a Family Cut for streaming.
In addition to enabling the sale/rental of edited videos, Vidangel’s unique business model provides such services for a much more affordable price than iTunes, Amazon, or other video services:
- A user initially pays $20 to purchase a digital movie from Vidangel
- Because the user owns the film, the user is free to select from thousands of specific filters to apply to the movie; e.g., “Remove F-Words”, “Skip nudity”, or “no filters”
- After watching, the user has the choice to keep the movie or resell it back to Vidangel within 24 hours of buying for $18 in Vidangel credit
- After reselling the movie, the user can purchase another movie with the $18 in credit plus $2 in additional cash, and then keep it or return it for $18 in credit
- The user can thus continue to “rent” HD movies for a net of $2 (only $1 for SD movies), and has freedom to edit as he or she pleases
Vidangel’s business model – selling/lending edited content – is specifically enabled by its unique crowdsourcing operating model. Without such an operating model, selling or lending edited content would not be feasible or even legal. In 2006, a company called CleanFlicks, which lent and sold edited Hollywood movies that were edited by CleanFlicks itself, went out of business when movie studios sued the company for altering and then selling their copyrighted content.
Vidangel, in contrast, uses its “community members [to] tag potentially offensive swearing, sex and violence in movies … These tags provide a customizable filter so viewers control what they see and hear based on their personal values and content preferences.” Vidangel leverages the Family Entertainment & Copyright Act of 2005, which states that individuals have the right to remove “limited portions of audio or video content of a motion picture, during a performance in or transmitted to that household for private home viewing, from an authorized copy of the motion picture.” Because the community does all of the filtering and viewing, the business model is legal.
While there is minimal additional public data on a small startup such as Vidangel, we can infer other features of its operating model beyond its crowdsourcing strategy and pricing structure that align with its business model, including the following:
- Personnel and Hiring. The firm hires professionals with experience in creative arts and entertainment. Of only 12 employees on LinkedIn, the Co-Founder is also an Artist and Designer; the Director of Marketing is a Comedy Writer for a local TV show; the Content Manager is a musician in the local Symphony; the CSR is an Aspiring Actress. Such backgrounds are aligned with a company designing an innovative technology platform to deliver media and entertainment.
- Platform & Technology. The company has adapted to today’s world of streaming by designing apps for every major desktop and mobile delivery platform (Apple, Google, Amazon, Roku, Chrome, Firefox, Xbox, PS4, etc.). Its technology is seamless; I recently rented a film through my iPhone and used the AppleTV AirPlay capability to watch it on my living room TV.
- Location: Vidangel is strategically located in the state of Utah, which is a largely religious and family-oriented state with a legal system that is friendly to family-oriented policies, as well as an employee pool that is aligned with the company’s strategy.
As the company scales up, its operating model, and more likely, its business model, may have to change, particularly as laws adapt to the delivery of digital content. For now, though, the company is aligned in both strategy and operations to be the market leader in a niche sector of family-oriented viewers. It may even disrupt higher-priced digital streaming platforms such as iTunes and Amazon Prime.
- “VidAngel Raises $600k to Launch Streaming Movies & YouTube Clean-Up App for Families”, http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/07/prweb12045685.htm
- Vidangel website, https://www.vidangel.com/
- LinkedIn, https://www.linkedin.com
- Wikipedia – “CleanFlicks”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CleanFlicks
- “Rent Edited Streaming “Clean Flicks” – A Review of VidAngel’s New Edited Movie Service”, http://mormonlifehacker.com/rent-edited-streaming-clean-flicks-review-vidangel-movie-service/
- Youtube – “This Poor Family Gets Shot with 3,192 Paintballs in 5.3 Seconds to Prove a Powerful Point –VidAngel”, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7t85SESTXI