Streaming on the cheap in Iowa City

Netflix recently announced that they would be raising their subscription rates. Despite these increasing charges, Iowa City offers some cheap, local options for budget-conscious cinephiles.

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Joseph Cress

People walk past the Iowa City Public Library on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016.

Kate Pixley, News Reporter

As some streaming apps become more expensive, thrifty University of Iowa students with a passion for film have other options to get their cinema fix.

While Netflix recently announced it would raise its subscription prices, the Iowa City Public Library offers Kanopy, a streaming service that library members can use free of charge.

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Through the Public Library, any library cardholder in Johnson County can take advantage of the service. Users are allowed to stream up to 10 films per month free of charge, according to a press release.

“Kanopy is a streaming video service that has more than 30,000 films and counting, specializing in independent films, documentaries, classic and early films, international cinema, and educational videos,” the press release said.

Brian Visser, a Public Library librarian who specializes in youth programming, said the library chose Kanopy over other streaming services partly because of its selection of classic films.

“A lot of people just like the convenience of a streaming option,” Visser said. “If you can’t make it to the library, you can still get stuff from the library.”

Netflix recently increased the price of its standard plan, which allows HD-streams from up to two screens, from $10.99 per month to $12.99 per month.

The change will immediately affect new subscribers, and existing users will face the new charges in the next three months.

The company announced the price uptick in its annual shareholder letter earlier this month, citing content expansion. This is Netflix’s fourth U.S. price increase in as many years, according to its website.

Hulu, on the other hand, recently decreased the cost for the cheapest plan from $7.99 per month to $5.99 per month.

The UI has offered Kanopy to students and faculty for roughly three years, according to UI Expert Librarian Dan Gall, in addition to other streaming services that are accessible online.

“I don’t think of [university streaming services] in terms of whether people can afford Netflix or not, although I know several of the campus services sort of advertise them that way,” Gall said. “For me, and for the faculty that I work with who want to stream films, it’s more important in terms of providing equitable service to students in terms of where they are. They also enable faculty to use their class time differently. So, instead of taking a bunch of valuable and limited class time … to show the movie, the technology allows students the ability to watch on their own time.”

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