multimedia streaming covid-19

By: Nick Gambino

With an unprecedented number of people staying home in a quasi or complete quarantine to avoid the spread of COVID-19, the top streaming services are being overloaded with users catching up on their watch lists.

While the average viewer knows about the usual streaming options – Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, HBO GO – there are lesser known streamers that offer titles that you can’t find anywhere else. The best of these, in my humble expert opinion, is Kanopy.

Kanopy is a free (yes, you read that right) streaming service that works in partnership with your public or university library to provide thousands of movies-on-demand. I’ve been using Kanopy for a couple years and it’s fantastic, and not only because it’s free.

This library-supported movie streaming platform leans into the classics and the indie, even carrying the full Criterion Collection. In fact, this is what drew me to Kanopy in the first place. When FilmStruck shuttered its operation, leaving classic film buffs in the cold, we were left searching for another cinematic fix. It turns out Kanopy had been there the whole time and with access granted with little more than a library card.

A quick glance at their current library shows titles like The Seventh Seal (RIP Max von Sydow), Seven Samurai, Dolemite, His Girl Friday and Charlie Chaplin’s Gold Rush. And that’s simply their classics. They’ve also got a ton of documentaries, short films and international titles.

To get started with Kanopy, you’ll have to make sure your library is in the Kanopy network. If so, you need only sign up with your library card number. If not, you can encourage your local library to link up with the platform. Odds are, they’ve already heard of it.

Now, the one downside to this free streamer (because of course there’s a downside – it’s free), is that you’re only allowed 10 movies a month. I know this seems limited, but if you use Kanopy as a supplement to your usual streamer like Netflix or Prime Video, then you probably won’t be watching more than 10 movies a month anyway. And, as the movie selection is more limited and niche, I can’t see you ditching Netflix, et al.

So, if your usual go-to streaming service runs its course while you’re waiting out this coronavirus bastard, then Kanopy is worth your attention. What do you have to lose? Certainly not money.