PureFlix.com, a streaming service catering to evangelicals, today announced that it will allow users to filter out words like “hell” and “damn” from its programming.
Pure Flix Entertainment, which produces Christian-friendly films and documentaries, launched its streaming platform last year. The SVOD service hosts about 5,000 titles, including Christian movies, educational films, and old shows like “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet” and “The Donna Reed Show.” The platform, sometimes called “Netflix for Christians,” promises users “no language, sex, or violence surprises.”
But some users are more conservative than others. So PureFlix has partnered with ClearPlay — a filtering service — to allow its most conservative viewers the chance to delete language that they find offensive.
“We’re erring on the side of being extremely cautious with language,” PureFlix spokesman David Migdal told Variety. “What may not bother you and I bothers some of our audience. … We’re a very clean, wholesome service. The idea here, partnering with ClearPlay, was to make PureFlix content cleaner and more wholesome.”
The announcement comes a week after a federal judge dealt a severe blow to VidAngel, a streaming service that also enables family-friendly filtering. At the urging of several Hollywood studios, Judge Andre Birotte ordered the service to shut down pending trial, finding that it is likely the studios will prevail on their claims of copyright infringement. VidAngel is appealing the ruling and has vowed to fight the case to the Supreme Court. In his ruling, Birotte singled out ClearPlay as a legal alternative to VidAngel.
ClearPlay has traditionally provided filtering for DVDs and Blu-ray discs, and more recently become available through Google Play. But it offers only a few hundred titles on Google Play. The deal with PureFlix allows it to expand to its second platform. It also creates the possibility that PureFlix could begin offering more mainstream titles, which previously would be too offensive for its audience.
“It opens the door to a lot more titles that really couldn’t be considered in the past,” Migdal said, adding that the company would make sure to get the appropriate licenses.
Neal Harmon, the CEO of VidAngel, countered that ClearPlay’s offerings are still too limited to serve the demand of the faith-and-family audience. He also pointed to the technical limitations of the ClearPlay arrangement — PureFlix users will be able to filter content only on Roku players and desktop computers — arguing that filtering must be available across devices, including phones, Apple TV, and tablets.
“The only way filtering has a future for popular Hollywood content is through those devices,” Harmon said. “There is a market for multiple players to participate, provided there is a technological path forward that is meaningful and reasonable for people to use.”
For now, VidAngel continues to operate, as it seeks to stay the injunction and pursues the case at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal.
Matt Jarman, CEO of ClearPlay, emphasized that his service works with authorized copies, and ensures that filmmakers and copyright holders are properly compensated.
“We’ve always felt like we’re legal,” Jarman said. “That’s been one of our main focuses, to always do this in a way that is fair to everyone — that is fair to content providers, that is fair to the audience, that is fair to the distributor. The standard economics apply to everyone, and it’s legal.”