London Public Library introduces Netflix-like movie streaming service

Move over Netflix, there’s a new kid in town. Kanopy, a popular on-demand film streaming service, is now available for free through the London Public Library.

The Kanopy streaming service will offer library users access to more than 30,000 films

Patrons of the London Public Library can now stream movies through a service called Kanopy. (London Public Library)

Move over Netflix, there's a new kid in town. Kanopy, a popular on-demand film streaming service, is now available for free through the London Public Library.

Anne O'Sullivan, manager of Customer Services and branch operations, says the service will give Londoners access to more than 30,000 films.

"The benefit to Kanopy is it's got maybe a bit more diverse holdings than Netflix. It's got more esoteric or indie-type hits, as well as classic masterpieces." 

The service also offers award-winning documentaries and unique providers, such as PBS from the United States. And it includes children's programming under the  Kanopy Kids banner.

O'Sullivan said the collection spans decades. It encompasses older classics, as well as movies that were screened at some of last year's film festivals.

4 freebies a month

With a library card, users get four "play credits," Sullivan said. 

"Those are the equivalent to borrows and the limit resets on the first of each month. So with your library card, you can watch four movies per month."

Users have three days to watch a film, and can watch it repeatedly during that time.

The service is available as an iOS or Android app or through a Smart TV or a web browser on a conventional computer. 

Anne O'Sullivan, manager of Customer Services and Branch Operations for the London Public Library, says Kanopy offers more diverse titles than Netflix. (London Public Library)

O'Sullivan says there are no holds or wait lists for films.

"We know that everything needs to be on-demand now. So you can log on immediately. It's really quick to sign up."

The service was announced in October to celebrate Ontario Public Library Week, and O'Sullivan said its already getting receiving positive reviews on social media.

What to watch this weekend

O'Sullivan has three suggestions to get you started.

  • The original version of A Star is Born from 1936. Sullivan recommends watching this before going to see the latest iteration, starring Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga.
  • The documentary Ex Libris: The New York Public Library.
  • For kids:  An episode of Arthur, an animated educational television series that aired on PBS from 2004 to 2008.

O'Sullivan says Kanopy will not replace the library's DVD collection of movies, but she expects there will less borrowing of DVDs over time as demand for streaming video increases.