There's a new way to get movies, TV shows, music and audiobooks for free on the Internet. And no, it's not piracy -- it's through public libraries.
Hoopla Digital, a Netflix-like service for library card holders, on Wednesday announced agreements with NBCUniversal, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc., National Geographic and BBC America to stream content. Launched this year, Hoopla lets library patrons access its entertainment material through a mobile app or Web browser.
Jeff Jankowski, Hoopla's founder and owner, said the service can help make libraries more convenient for people who are too busy to make the trip to a physical location and more attractive to younger patrons who want to be able to access movies and music whenever and wherever they want.
"It allows people to discover new content without having to wait in line and without having to reserve months ahead of time," Jankowski said. "We think this is a really cool tool for libraries and library card holders."
The new streaming deals add to previous agreements with Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group and eOne Music, and add about 10,000 titles to Hoopla's offering.
Hoopla's catalog certainly isn't as up-to-date as Netflix's, though it does include material that Netflix doesn't have. The additions include "Scarface" and "Liar Liar" along with educational documentaries from National Geographic and BBC America.
The deals also add some current music options such as Katy Perry's "Prism" and Drake's "Nothing was the Same."
Jankowski said Hoopla works well as a supplement to Netflix or Amazon.com's Prime Instant streaming service.
Hoopla is owned by Midwest Tape LLC, a Holland, Ohio, company that sells movies, TV shows, music and audiobooks to public libraries. The streaming service charges libraries a fee whenever a patron streams a title.
It has partnerships with 40 library systems, including Los Angeles Public Library, and plans to expand its reach to 800 libraries in the next year.
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