5 Things to Know About Hoopla, the Free Streaming Service for Videos, Music and Audiobooks

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To end off a series of library-related posts, let me introduce you to Hoopla Digital, the mother-of-all free streaming service for music, movies, TV shows, documentaries and audiobooks that you could access and indulge in with a public library card. More iTunes-y than Netflix or Spotify, Hoopla is a cloud-based digital media platform that enables users to instantly borrow entertainment and educational material off the website or through the Hoopla app on a tablet or smartphone. It sprung up in Canada last July and is currently available in Edmonton, Hamilton, Guelph, Richmond, Victoria, B.C. and a few other Canadian cities, as well as many more in the U.S. (Check the map to see if your town has it.)

The Toronto Public Library will be launching Hoopla soon, and while I haven’t had the privilege to test it out yet, here are some interesting bits about this underground world of legal downloading:

1. The catalogue is huge.
There’s reportedly more than 250,000 albums and 10,000 movies, TV shows and audiobooks in the digital library and growing. Not bad for a starter collection. What drew me in personally was the wide selection of popular music, including top artists like Ellie Goulding, Drake, The Weeknd and Katy Perry, as well as EPs and remix albums. Full records can be downloaded from the app to listen to on a mobile device during long commutes, and new releases are added at the same time they come out on iTunes. Movies and TV shows aren’t as current or extensive as Netflix, but there are more educational and instructional videos, which can be borrowed for three days without having to put anything on a wait list. Albums are automatically returned after seven days and audiobooks after three weeks. One thing I noticed was that there could be variations of the Hoopla catalogue that differ between library systems. For instance, TPL’s might exclude audiobooks because of the overlap with OverDrive.

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