Walmart’s Vudu adds Family Play feature so viewers can skip sex, violence and substance abuse

Vudu, the streaming service owned by Walmart, announced a new feature today that will make it easier for viewers to avoid sex and violence in movies.

Anyone who’s watched an R-rated movie on broadcast television or on an airplane is probably familiar with films that have been “edited for content,” but Vudu’s new Family Play option give viewers more control over what they find objectionable.

Specifically, they can turn filters on and off for sex/nudity, violence, substance abuse and language. In the first three instances, Vudu will skip the relevant scenes, and in the case of strong language, it will mute the dialogue. The feature is already supported in more than 500 films.

At an advertiser event in May, Vudu leaders suggested that they will stand out from the other streaming services by creating content that can be watched by entire families, with Senior Director Julian Franco declaring, “We’re not just going to be programming for Williamsburg and Silver Lake.”

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It sounds like Vudu has similar ambitions for all its original content. In a blog post today, Vice President Scott Blanksteen wrote:

With so much content available and more people watching, what if we could also be a streaming service that provides a great, safe viewing environment for families? What if we could provide our customers the flexibility to ensure that content and the Vudu experience are appropriate for everyone in the family to watch, including the youngest of viewers – kids?

A streaming service called VidAngel ran into legal trouble (and eventually declared bankruptcy) a couple years ago when it tried to sell movies that were edited to be family friendly. However, where VidAngel was operating independently to decrypt and edit DVDs, Vudu told Variety that it’s working with the movie studios.

Vudu also says it’s partnering with advocacy group Common Sense Media to provide ratings and reviews “from a parent’s perspective,” and to create a kid-friendly viewing mode. And it’s launching its first original series today — a remake of “Mr. Mom,” with new episodes streaming every Thursday.

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