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How movie fans in Huntsville can stream over 30,000 movies for free

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You won’t die if you don’t have Netflix. Sure it’s a nice luxury, but bingeing “Cobra Kai” and “Stranger Things” isn’t a basic life necessity. And facing increases these days in fundamental needs, like groceries and rent, many of us are looking at ways of cutting costs on “wants,” including entertainment.

According to a summer 2021 JD Power survey, the average American household spends $55 a month on streaming video. That figure is up from $47 in December 2020. Reasons for the increase include households subscribing to more streaming services, up to 4.5 from 3.9 on average, and some services, including Netflix premium and Disney+, increasing their subscription prices, survey findings assert.

For Huntsville area residents looking to cut back on streaming costs, there’s an interesting option. Members of the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library are eligible for a free membership to Kanopy, a video-streaming platform with a collection of more than 30,000 films, according to the service’s website,

Kanopy isn’t unlimited streaming. Members can only watch up to five films a month. But keep in mind those are five films you don’t have to pay for. Depending on the title, Kanopy streamers have 48 or 72 hours to finish a title after pressing play.

The Kanopy app is available for TV devices including: Apple TV and Airplay, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Samsung Smart TV, Roku, Telstra TV and Chromecast. Don’t have a streaming device? You can watch Kanopy on your TV by connecting your computer to your TV via an HDMI cable. The app is also available for smartphones and tablets.

Recently added movies on Kanopy include 2021 drama “The Forgiven” starring Jessica Chastain and Ralph Fiennes, 2022 Naomi Watts thriller “Infinite Storm,” Kristen Stewart’s Princess Diana biopic “Spencer” and Winona Ryder horror film “Gone in the Night.”

Academy Award winning and nominated films from recent years streaming on Kanopy include “Parasite” and “Moonlight.” There are contemporary foreign films, like “Titanium” and “Blue is the Warmest Color.” TV series too, including Anthony Bourdain’s “A Cook’s Tour” and the History Channel’s “Alone.” Music documentaries such as “Zappa” and “Fanny: The Right to Rock.” Just in time for Halloween, horror options like “Suspiria,” “Hereditary,” “The Babadook” and “Midsommar.”

Vintage films include such titles as “Chinatown,” “A Touch of Mink,” Fellini’s “8 ½” and Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai.” Kanopy also curates inclusive-minded collections, like “Directed By Women” and “LGBTQ Cinema.”

Plus, for families with young children, there are unlimited plays of Kanopy’s children’s content, including Dr. Seuss, Muppet and “Sesame Street” programming. There’s also adult educational content, including “Great Courses” (two per month) and fitness and cooking titles.

Asked how the service enhances the library experience, HMCPL public relations manager Jay Hixson writes in an email, “Kanopy provides access to streaming movies, TV series and educational works that appeal to all audiences.” He adds, “Kanopy’s offering of educational content for children in their Kanopy Kids section makes this a great tool for parents.

Huntsville-Madison County Public Library members have had access to Kanopy since September 2021. “To date we have streamed over 9,000 titles,” Hixson says, The library pays for streaming service out of its operational budget. HMCPL pays Kanopy per stream, about $2 per movie or TV show, on a monthly basis and only pays for the number of titles actually streamed. To sign up, you’ll need your library card number and password and your email address. More info at

Kanopy was founded in Australia in 2008, originally to provide educational content via DVDs for college and universities. The company moved into streaming around 2010 and relocated to San Francisco soon after that. In 2016, Kanopy expanded its services to also include public libraries. Around 2019, the company was acquired by OverDrive, Inc., a Cleveland headquartered digital distributor of eBooks, audiobooks and online magazines.


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