Cinedigm is launching a Netflix-style entertainment subscription video service — but one that’s been sanitized for kids and faith-based viewers.
The studio on Tuesday launched the Dove Channel, a $4.99-per-month service with more than 900 hours of movies and TV shows. Cinedigm teamed on the SVOD service with the Dove Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to encouraging the entertainment industry to create entertainment that is “appropriate for family viewing.”
Dove Channel content includes Jim Henson’s “Fraggle Rock” (pictured above), “Highway To Heaven,” “Swiss Family Robinson,” “The Adventures of Black Beauty,” “Where The Red Fern Grows,” “The Velveteen Rabbit” and popular episodes of “VeggieTales.” In addition, the SVOD service includes faith-based titles for audiences “seeking redemptive narratives,” according to Cinedigm.
Of course, pay-TV services and other OTT providers like Netflix have long provided parental controls as a tool to shield kids from objectionable material.
Cinedigm CEO Chris McGurk said what’s different about the Dove Channel is that the content is sortable and searchable using the Dove Foundation’s five-point rating system ranking programming in six key criteria, including sexuality, language, violence, drug and alcohol use, and nudity.
“We think that’s a unique feature that is going to set us apart from others in this space,” he said. “Instead of having to go to Netflix and sort through thousands of titles, you have the Dove-approved titles and the service tells you why each one has a given rating.”
But how many people will really be interested in such a Bowdlerized streaming service? Cinedigm and Dove Foundation see a huge addressable market: More than 90 million Americans identify as evangelical Christians, per the National Assn. of Evangelicals.
“For a long time we’ve known the missing link in online family entertainment has been the safety issue, and Dove Channel offers a wide array of family and faith-friendly viewing choices for kids, parents, grandparents and everyone in between,” said Dick Rolfe, co-founder and CEO of Dove Foundation.
The Dove Channel is accessible on a range of connected devices including Roku players and TVs, Android and Apple iOS devices, Samsung Smart TVs and the web. Additionally, the service can be viewed on multiple devices within each family.
Cinedigm expects to add original programming to Dove Channel in the future, along with exclusively licensed content, McGurk said. The first exclusive offering on Dove Channel is the first season of “Austentatious,” which will be available on the service exclusively for the month of September. The 10-episode series is a modern take on the works of Jane Austen, with themes of family, friendship, love and career.
Initially, when it cut the deal with Dove Foundation, Cinedigm planned to debut Dove Channel in the first quarter of 2015. It was pushed back by a delay in the launch of CONtv, Cinedigm’s Comic Con-related SVOD service, and the fact that execs didn’t want to roll out Dove Channel in the middle of summer.
“You always want to get it right,” McGurk said. “We feel we learned a lot from the CONtv launch that we applied to this one, a lot of the technical lessons about what works on each device.”
Both Dove Channel and CONtv are based on Comcast’s thePlatform video-management platform, while Cinedigm’s ad-supported Docurama film and TV documentaries service uses AdRise’s platform.
McGurk is slated to demo the Dove Channel at Variety’s Entertainment & Technology Summit in L.A. Wednesday.