As you may recall, I recently rediscovered my local library system. After receiving my new shiny new library card, I started to checkout many of the new, high-tech services that my local library has to offer. Amongst them, I discovered Hoopla, a FREE Netflix type media streaming service! Hoopla works on computers, phones and tablets. With a few quick work arounds, I was even able to stream directly to my television! So what exactly is Hoopla?
Hoopla, simply put is just like the Netflix app that you know and love, with a major exception: it’s FREE! That’s right, included in many library memberships nationwide is the service that allows you to stream not only TV shows and music, but also audio books and music albums! So lets start off with the basics here.. In order to use Hoopla, your library must pay for the service. That’s right, it’s technically supported by tax dollars. I read a few articles explaining the benefits of the hoopla service for libraries, and in particular for audio books, it’s much cheaper for libraries to pay each time you checkout a title than to flat out purchase it for loan. Pretty cool huh? Not all libraries participate, but checkout their coverage map to see. Remember they are nationwide, so you may be surprised at who else can use the service. It’s not limited to just Florida! Remember the picture of the map shown here is static, so check th slink to be sure you see the most up to date coverage areas as they bring on new library systems.
Ok, next step, how do you Hoopla? Go to their site https://www.hoopladigital.com and begin the sign-up process. It’s pretty straight forward, but you’ll need to select your local library and provide your library card number and password. You may need to check with your local branch if you have no clue what your password is. Apparently that is something fairly new in the library world. During the process, you’ll also discover just how many titles you can have out per month. My library in particular allows 10 checkouts per month. Movies and TV are available for 72 hours after checkout, audio books for 21 days, and music albums for 7 days.
Have your account all setup now? Great! You’re all set to find out what all the Hoopla is about. (Sorry I just had to throw that in somewhere!) Browse their library of media to get started. A few things to consider, each television episode is considered against one of your checkouts. Since my library only allows 10 checkouts, and the counters reset at the first of each month, it will take me almost 20 months to be able to watch a season of a TV show with 20 episodes. So remember it’s not an “all you can watch” streaming service. The Hoopla service is based on your unique library card number, so if your entire family has cards, they can set up their own unique Hoopla accounts. This could expand your waiting and listening significantly.
Not impressed with the stream to a PC? Apps are available for both Apple and Android universes as well as the Amazon Kindle fire. Just search for Hoopla in your favorite app store. I’m usually around a wi-fi connection for most of my day, but my wife is going on a plane trip soon and wi-fi isn’t available on the flight. One of the coolest Hoopla features is the ability to download the media directly to your device. This is great for those that don’t want to eat up their data plan! In order for Netflix or Hulu to work, you need to actually be connected to the internet, whereas Hoopla will let you store the media for later playback. I tried this with both a music album and a movie. It worked great! So the night before she leaves for her trip with the boys, you can bet she’ll be on Hoopla downloading some movies and cartoons for them to watch on the plane. I found that after the loan period is over, the app automatically deletes the media. No late fees, and you won’t be taking up space on your iPad.
So how do you actually get this on your TV? I successfully used the AirPlay screen mirroring to watch the movie on my big screen. The audio and video quality was great and didn’t notice a difference between the streaming and the actual download, but then again my internet is pretty quick. The Amazon Fire TV allows streaming from newer android devices as well as the kindle. I would imagine it would work the same but since we aren’t an android family I’m not 100% sure.
So how is the selection? Well I can tell this for certain, it is constantly changing. In the month it took me to actually do the Hoopla write up after experimenting with it, the media library has certainly expanded. I have also found that they offer some selections that just aren’t available on other services. Take the move BaseketBall. It was one of my favorites when I was younger (certainly not child appropriate) and it was available on Hoopla, but not Hulu, Netflix, or Amazon Prime streaming. Tonight while checking out the selection again, I discovered there was an animated Stargate series that I had no idea ever existed, and again is not available streaming anywhere else, so I think that their selection is pretty good. You won’t find the latest Hollywood blockbuster on the same day it’s available at your local Redbox, but it should get there eventually. As far as the music goes, some of my favorite bands are available and some of them even offer a full discography.
Overall, the Hoopla service is a great way to supplement entertainment! The interface on the apps and their website are smooth and intuitive and much easier to navigate than the Dewy Decimal system. Hoopla is a great addition to your cord cutting tool box, but if you like binge watching television shows, this may not be the service for you. Remember though it’s FREE, and you have nothing to lose. Feel free to search their content directly without setting up an account to see if it’s something you would be interested in. I think that we’ll probably be getting some use out of the download functionality and can’t wait to checkout a new animated series of one of my favorite sci-fi franchises!
At time of writing, the following Florida counties offer the Hoopla service:
- Palm Beach
- St. Johns
- The City of Lakeland
|Cost Analysis: FREE|