[UPDATED NOTE: This blog posting continues to receive a lot of traffic from those interested in edited movie content. As of May 2015, here is the status of edited movie choices: 1) VidAngel continues to impress with their edited streaming video business. Not only can you stream to your mobile device, but you can stream directly to your TV using a variety of options. Their pricing model is very attractive as well (just $2 for an HD movie). See one of the founders comments, below, on other details and check out their site! 2) ClearPlay has received a lot of attention as of late as they finally released their long awaited bluray player. Filters can now be downloaded and added to the player automatically which is a nice feature. ClearPlay also has edited streaming content as well, though from what I can tell, VidAngel still trumps them in that area both in content and pricing. 3) You can still purchase edited movies HERE, HERE, and HERE. I have no idea as to the legality of those sites but they’ve been operational for many years now.]
[NOTE: Since originally writing this post, ClearPlay has announced that they’ll be releasing a bluray player later this year (2014) and will also be entering the edited streaming video market. Details on this announcement are scarce at this point. Check their website for updates. If you’re interested in edited streaming video, I’d highly recommend you check out http://vidangel.com for a company who has already released hundreds of filters for streaming video content]
I’ve been a ClearPlay member and supporter for more than 10 years now. I was there when they released their first software that allowed you to watch edited DVDs on a computer; I was there when they released their first actual DVD player under the RCA brand; I was there when they released their first DVD player allowing for filters to be loaded via USB; and I was there when they came out with their upconvert “HD” player. In fact if client loyalty equates to dollars spent with a company, I’m as loyal as they come.
After 10+ years of support, I’m saying farewell to ClearPlay.
Why you ask? Good question. Yes, I’m still one who enjoys watching quality movies without all of the inappropriate content. That hasn’t changed. But what has changed is technology. And with that change in technology has come different ways to enjoy movies compared to the traditional DVD method. Take bluray and streaming for example.
My wife and I now buy all of our movies in the blu-ray format. Why continue to invest in DVD when it’s clearly on its way out? And why not spend an extra $5 or $10 to own a movie that is clearly superior in video quality?
We are also Netflix subscribers and thus get a lot of our viewing content via streaming video. It’s convenient, it’s cheap, and there are a lot of options. True, they don’t usually have the latest and greatest releases, but we’ve found plenty to watch all the same. Particularly movies that are a bit older but still considered “gems” in anyone’s book. New content is being added all the time including a myriad of television show options.
The problem of course is that ClearPlay has ignored bluray and has ignored streaming. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen comments on their Facebook page from subscribers or interested parties wanting to know when they are going to release a bluray player. Either those comments are ignored or they receive a short reply of “We have no information at this time.” Is one in the works ClearPlay? I fail to understand why you just won’t let us know. You don’t even need to give details or a release date. Just give us HOPE!
On the streaming front, has ClearPlay even approached Netflix or Amazon or Vudu or any of the other streaming movie providers? I put up a petition many months ago asking for ClearPlay and Netflix to work together, and have even sent Netflix letters asking for the possibility of forming a partnership. No replies. And ClearPlay is equally silent on the attempts they have or haven’t made. With over 250 signatures thus far, people are interested!
There are two other things that factored into my decision to drop ClearPlay.
The one has to do with DVD availability. Yes, you can rent DVDs from RedBox to put into your ClearPlay player. But renting from RedBox means you’ll be renting new releases only (and good luck renting those new releases on the weekends). If you want to watch something that’s more than 3-4 months old, you’ll be out of luck. How do you enjoy all of those ClearPlay filters for older titles? Well, you either have to buy the movie, OR, you have to subscribe to a DVD mail plan since the brick and mortar Blockbuster stores are quickly becoming a thing of the past.
There is one other thing which probably doesn’t belong in this particular posting since it doesn’t have much to do with ClearPlay’s failure to keep up with technology shifts. But I mention it only because it’s a factor in my decision to leave ClearPlay.
It has to do with movies themselves.
It dawned on me recently that my family and I haven’t really been using ClearPlay that much. In fact, when I look back to 2012, we probably used it only five times. That would equate to $15/movie to watch it edited (ClearPlay membership divided by 5). But cost analysis aside, I started to think about why I only watched five. And when I thought about it, it’s because I just wasn’t interested in the movies there were filters for, OR because the movies just don’t clean up very well, OR they still aren’t very appropriate even after they are filtered.
Let’s examine some of the comments of our very own ClearPlay movie reviewers taken from the blog or the weekly newsletters:
There is plenty of violence and disturbing images to deal with, too, and with filters on full there will be some gaps. While the violent, disturbing nature of the film may turn some off (even with ClearPlay), for sci–fi fans this is a must see.
With filters on full, prepare for a mute fest that will be a bit jarring to watch.
The [movie] is probably not worth watching with violence filters on as you will be left with stretches of bad dialog…
With violence and disturbing filters on, you will have to fill in a few blanks for yourself.
With filters on full, there will be one major continuity gap.
If you have the filters set for violence, bloodshed, and disturbing at all, you will miss major chunks of the film.
Does anyone think that watching a film containing 30, 50, or 100+ swear words is going to be that enjoyable given that entire conversations will be muted?
Does anyone think that watching an inherent violent and disturbing film is really going to be enjoyable even when ClearPlay is trying to cut all of it out? (talk about a very choppy viewing experience)
Does anyone think that watching a romantic comedy that portrays casual sex as an acceptable practice will be cleaned up enough to where that theme still isn’t apparent?
No doubt there are exceptions and sometimes there are occasional movies that clean up VERY well. I would argue those are far and few between. And for those movies, it might just be worth purchasing them edited instead of spending your money on an infrequently used ClearPlay membership. Just a thought. (And a thought for you ClearPlay–would you consider a “per-movie” membership plan?)
Despite ClearPlay’s technological lag, I do, and will always, applaud them for what they do: clean up, the best they can, the awfulness in movies these days. My hope for them is two fold: one, that they adapt their product to the increasingly popular ways people are watching movies (bluray & streaming); and two, that they simply continue to stay in business–seeing as how amoral Hollywood and movie studios continue to push boundaries, resulting in ClearPlay finding it increasingly challenging to provide still-enjoyable-to-watch movie filters.