Alan Ringuette says it's a constant battle in his house.
The father of six would always try to shield his kids from commericals advertising products like Viagra, beer and other items meant for mature audiences, but was finding that to be a tough battle to win.
That's why he and Rich Theriault teamed up to create MyTVChoice, a phone app that allows parents to skip those racy ads.
"We have the technology that allows people to watch live TV and automatically avoid commercials," Ringuette says. "If you're watching a Patriots game, it will monitor the game. You program the app it into your phone, pick a safe channel and it will go to wherever you tell it."
MyTVChoice was launched in July after some beta testing in the South last year. So far, the Metrowest entrepreneurs have a little less than 100 subscribers in towns like Sudbury, Natick and Wayland.
"We’re kind of like an invisible man sitting in your living room with a remote control changing the channel for you," Ringuette says. "It will go to another game, a music channel and when the game resumes it will automatically take your television back to the game."The device is all wireless, with the hardware a little bigger than a hockey puck. It communicates with the wifi in your home, and your cable box or satellite box.
"We remotely monitor these games offsite," he says. "We'll communicate with the devices."
And it doesn't work with just games. MyTVChoice can also monitor commercials for top-20 shows like American Idol, NCIS and others.
"Initially, 'Watch the game not the ads' was our (motto). It costs us more money but we thought we should really do the top 20 shows because they can be family events, too," Ringuetts says. "The sense is people are offended by commercials for different reasons … religious reasons, materialistic reasons, the way women are portrayed. It gives control back to the parents."
Major advertisers have yet to complain about the blocking system.
"We’re a small start-up. Some people know we exist. But (advertisers haven’t contacted us), yet," he says. "It would probably take us to have about a million subscribers before we’re going to dent anybody’s world."
MyTVChoice was started with private funding. Less than $500,000 was raised last year to get the company off the ground, and another $400,000 has been committed to take the product to market.
"We’ll continue to expand the coverage," Ringuette says. "Our hope is to hear back from consumers asking us to cover other programs."
Ringuette is offering MyTVChoice for $9.95 per month the first year, then $4.95 a month afterward.
"Once you have kids," he says, "you become very sensitive to what they are seeing."