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New York City Public Libraries Drop Kanopy Free Movie-Streaming Service

Kanopy suffered a blow with the decision by New York City’s three public library systems — collectively the biggest library system in the U.S., with some 210 branches across the Big Apple — to drop the free movie-streaming service, citing high costs.

As of July 1, the New York Public Library and the Brooklyn and Queens library systems will no longer offer Kanopy. Each of the three institutions cited price increases as the reason for eliminating the service, which curates documentaries, indie and foreign films, classics, and kids programming.

Under Kanopy’s model, libraries pay approximately $2 per movie streamed by a patron (with a “view” consisting of at least 30 seconds viewed) and the company pays 50% of the fees back to content owners. Kanopy forecasts usage over a year and caps spending at a certain level for a given partner. After verifying their status as a library patron and creating a Kanopy account, users have been able to stream movies anywhere on smartphones, PCs and smart TVs.

“While providing access to Kanopy streaming is no longer financially sustainable for NYPL, it remains our mission to provide the resources that meet the broadest range of needs possible,” the New York Public Library, which operates in Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island, said in a statement.

Similarly, the Brooklyn Public Library said in a tweet about the decision to drop Kanopy, “Unfortunately, rising costs made it unsustainable. With careful consideration, we decided to use our resources on more in-demand collections like audiobook & e-book licenses.”

In an email Monday to users, Kanopy CEO Olivia Humphrey wrote that the company was “disappointed” but that it understood that “New York City’s libraries’ current priorities lie with other programs that also advance their mission.”

“We have enjoyed furthering the New York City libraries’ mission of providing open access to knowledge through our diverse and exclusive slate of 19,000+ thought-provoking films,” Humphrey wrote.

According to the New York Public Library, about 25,000 of its patrons (around 1% percent of the system’s 2 million cardholders) used Kanopy. The Queens Public Library said only about 6,000 of its 1 million cardholders used the service and that Kanopy was planning to raise the subscription rate to about $125,000 annually.

Kanopy’s catalog includes films licensed from HBO Documentaries, A24, Bleecker Street, the Criterion Collection, German non-profit The Goethe-Institut and San Francisco MOMA. Titles available on Kanopy include Greta Gerwig’s “Lady Bird,” Matt Ross’ “Captain Fantastic,” Oscar-nominated “Loving Vincent,” Federico Fellini’s “8 1/2,” and Taika Waititi’s “Boy,” according to the company’s site.

As of last month, San Francisco-based Kanopy said it was available to more than 50 million public library users and more than 3,000 college and university libraries across the U.S., Canada, Australia and the U.K.

Founded in 2008, Kanopy last year received an investment from private-equity firm L Squared Capital Partners.

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