Movie, music streaming that won’t take from your wallet

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Hoopla is a new app that allows users to stream audio and video content for free with the aid of their library card. Image courtesy of Hoopla Digital. (Photo courtesy of Hoopla Digital)
Hoopla is a new app that allows users to stream audio and video content for free with the aid of their library card. Image courtesy of Hoopla Digital. (Photo courtesy of Hoopla Digital)

The constant Hulu Plus ads and the pull on the pocketbook for dishing out Netflix money can be a bit of an annoyance as a college student, but a library card may be able to help out.

A new app called Hoopla now offers a way to stream video and television shows for free, thanks to a collaboration between Hoopla digital and the Salt Lake County Library Services. Using a smartphone, tablet or laptop, the app allows users to stream or temporarily download an ever-increasing selection of digital content including music, movies, TV shows and audiobooks.

And for those who are wary of content “from the library”—don’t worry, it boasts more than merely public domain content.

“Right now we offer videos and audiobooks, and we just added the music feature last week,” said Greg Near, public relations officer for the Salt Lake County Library Services.

The Salt Lake County Library Services were one of 10 beta-testers for the program in June. They offered the program to the public in July, and the user base has grown steadily since.

“We’ve had a very positive response from both the video and audiobooks,” Near said. “The music just started last week, so we have yet to see.”

Hoopla has no advertisements, and the service is completely free for Salt Lake County Library card holders. But the trade-off for the price tag, or lack thereof, is a cap on how much users can access. Patrons are only allowed to stream or download 10 titles per month. This is due to content cost, which is covered by government funding for the library. For this reason, avid media consumers may only want to use it in addition to other streaming services.

“I actually see it as complimentary to Netflix and Hulu, but with the audiobooks and music, we’re actually offering more options,” Hoopla creator Jeff Janowski said in an interview with Los Angeles Magazine.

Since many students already use services like Netflix or Hulu, Hoopla can serve to supplement their choices. Art Lee, a 24-year-old medical laboratory science major, said he loves the media collection that streaming makes accessible.

“What I really like about (streaming) is the fact that we have a whole collection,” Lee said. “It’s things we like but we don’t actually have to buy the tapes or DVDs we want.”

The app is available for download via Google Play or Apple’s app store, and every library affiliated with the Salt Lake County Library Services supports Hoopla. For a list of libraries in Salt Lake county, visit slcolibrary.org.

“I think (Hoopla) sounds interesting,” Lee said. I might actually look into it. I don’t know how often I would use it, but I’d look into it.”

The Provo City Library said it currently has no plans to offer streaming with Hoopla, but to see it in Provo, call the library and ask.

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