First of all, how are you and your Family doing in these COVID-19 Times?
Neal Harmon: We have started hiking, and we’re playing more board games and reading together (scriptures and other great books). We’re trying to make the best of it.
Tell us about you, your Career, how you Founded VidAngel
Neal Harmon: I am a co-founder and CEO of VidAngel, a streaming service that allows parents to skip objectionable content in entertainment using groundbreaking technology. VidAngel has been highly-profiled for The Chosen, its original series about Jesus and the #1 crowdfunded media project in history, and its other incredible family-based content like Dry Bar Comedy. VidAngel recently made
headlines for offering all of its streaming content free during the COVID-19 pandemic, provided people agree to the social distancing, of course.
How does VidAngel Innovate?
Neal Harmon: VidAngel exists to help you make entertainment good for your home. What is suitable 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 it.
In 2013, we started developing software that was essentially a pre-programmed streaming remote, allowing you to skip over objectionable content in your favorite movies and TV shows. We have now gone through 6 successive attempts to build your skipping software. In each iteration, we hit a wall. We were sued by Disney over iteration number four, struggled through bankruptcy, and today Disney continues to oppose iteration number 6. We’re continuing to push through that for our users, 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 to serve you better. Additionally, with the help of 19,000 of you, we funded, produced, and distributed the award-winning dramatic series The Chosen. And we’re the first company to launch a series entirely in its own app with our pay-it-forward monetization feature. We’ve already greenlit season 2 of The Chosen, and we’ve started pre-production.
How has the Coronavirus Pandemic affected your Business, and how are you coping?
Neal Harmon: At the beginning of the pandemic, we offered families free access to VidAngel, including all of our amazing original content, if they agreed to social distancing. Our business is generating many times the revenue of our skipping software prior to the injunction and lawsuit with Disney. Dry Bar has over 2 billion views. The Chosen is offered globally, in dozens of languages, has over 50 million views, and millions of dollars in revenue via its own app. It has been the #1 series on VidAngel for months.
How do you deal with Stress and Anxiety? How do you Project yourself and VidAngel in the Future?
Neal Harmon: Candidly, sometimes I do well, and sometimes I do poorly. I recently shared an experience our family had during the crash of 2008, and I invited others to share their stories of reaching the end of their rope and somehow pulling through. Jeff Allen, a very talented comedian who performed one of the most popular specials on Dry Bar Comedy, shared his own experience and a favorite prayer. When I start feeling stressed out or anxious as of late, I’ve repeated that prayer.
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”
Through this VidAngel experience, I’ve realized that when we are united for good, there is more we can change than we can on our own.
I believe the reason VidAngel has so many supporters and has become a movement is that all of us see an opportunity within the company to impact the future of our culture. Before, we felt helpless to change our culture. Now, we can be part of the story and have a tremendous impact for good in the future.
Who are your Competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the Game?
Neal Harmon: The media world has become so dark and cynical in recent years. We welcome anyone willing to be a media light in a darkening media world. In other words, we welcome more competitors to join us. Please keep us on our toes, and if you do a better job than VidAngel at making the world a better place through the media, one day, my grandchildren, children, my wife, and I will all thank you for it. We may be experiencing dark times, but I believe the best times are yet ahead. May God grant us the courage to change the things we can.
Your Final Thoughts
Neal Harmon: When we started VidAngel, our vision was to help you, the viewer, make entertainment good for your home. We do that by providing tools to control the content in your home and help create brand new content based on your preferences. That’s exactly what we’ve been able to do with The Chosen, and we look forward to providing loads more programming just like this. Please check out The Riot and The Dance, for example. Also, laugh to no end with Dry Bar Comedy, which gets over a billion views per year. And there’s much more on the way. If you’re not satisfied with what Hollywood has created for your home, we invite you to join millions who have decided to do something about it.
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