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New York Public Libraries to Terminate Partnerships With Free Streaming Service Kanopy

Stephanie Sengwe

Over the past two years, the New York, Brooklyn and Queens Public Libraries have been offering members free access to six classic movies per month through Kanopy, a free movie streaming service. Titles such as Chinatown, Charade, and To Catch a Thief, which couldn’t be found on Netflix and Hulu were accessible to those cinephiles with a penchant for old Hollywood.

Now, however, after two years in partnerships, the libraries are terminating their contracts with the service as early as July 1. In a statement on the New York Public Library’s website, Interim Chief Branch Library Officer, Caryl Matute attributed the termination to cost, stating, “The Library made this decision after a careful and thorough examination of its streaming offerings and priorities. We believe the cost of Kanopy makes it unsustainable for the Library, and that our resources are better utilized purchasing more in-demand collections such as books and e-books.”

While Kanopy was free to library cardholders, the service was reportedly costly to the libraries. Though it’s not clear what the contract between Kanopy and the New York systems was, according to Gizmodo, the Austin Public Library in Texas paid $2 each time a title was played, a hefty price once you consider there are eight-and-a half-million residents in the city.

“Ultimately, this came down to a decision by the libraries, and where to focus their strategic priorities right now. We have witnessed incredible growth in user demand at these libraries over the past couple years and worked with the NYPL, BPL, and QPL to devise innovative new models that give them certainty and supports their budgetary needs,” Lisa Kovitz, a spokesperson for Kanopy told Gizmodo.

One of the big draws to Kanopy was access to films from The Criterion Collection. With less than a week left, lovers of those old Hollywood classics may have to turn to their recently launched streaming service, Criterion Channel, to get their fill of nostalgia. The service, which launched in April, includes 1,000 on-demand classic films for $10.99 a month, after a 14-Day Free Trial.

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