Already have an account?
Get back to the
Movies

Why Kanopy Should Be Your New Favorite Streaming Service To Watch Thousands of Movies and TV Shows for Free

Did you know you can watch thousands of movies and shows for free?

When it comes to streaming services, you already know (and probably subscribe to) Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video. While these streamers feature many of our favorite movies and shows, the subscription costs add up, and in many cases the lower-cost tiers feature pesky ads.

If you’ve ever wished you could stream movies for free, you need to know about Kanopy. While it’s not as well-known as Netflix, it’s an amazing resource for all kinds of movies, from Oscar-winning dramas to educational documentaries to foreign film classics. Here’s a guide to the service and how to use it.

How to get Kanopy

Kanopy can be accessed through public libraries and universities. There are so many benefits to having a library card, and being able to stream a great selection of movies at home just might be one of them!

Many libraries across the country have a partnership with Kanopy. To see if your library offers access, you can go to their “Find Your Library” page. If your library comes up, you’re in luck! You can then enter your library card information to create your account. You’ll never have to enter your credit card information, and once your library card is in the system, you can stream movies and shows from your computer or smart TV.

The catch is that not all public libraries offer Kanopy — but plenty of them do, and if you want to stream movies without paying a monthly bill, it’s worth checking to see if your library has it.

How does it work?

The way Kanopy is able to offer free movies is based on how libraries have always operated. As they explain on their site, “Just as your library buys books to add to their collection for you to borrow, your library offers a variety of digital resources too — Kanopy is one of their more popular digital resources. Kanopy does not charge you because the public library or university covers all associated costs, allowing you to watch for free with no ads.”

The library then determines how many movies users can stream per month. Because Kanopy is a free service, it does have some limitations. You can’t watch unlimited movies. Instead, the service operates on a ticket system, where libraries offer users a set amount of virtual tickets each month, which are then redeemed to stream movies.

How many tickets your Kanopy gives you may vary from one library to the next, but they refresh every month, and when you consider how expensive movie theater tickets have become, Kanopy is definitely worth signing up for, even if you can only stream a set amount of movies per month.

Kanopy also includes Kanopy Kids, which is filled with animated movies and shows and educational content for kids. Kanopy Kids offers unlimited plays, so your kids can watch as much as they want.

What’s on the service?

Kanopy’s collection of movies is always growing. Unlike Netflix and other services, they have no original content, and are rather entirely dedicated to licensed films and TV shows.

Like most streaming services, the selection on Kanopy is ever-changing, but here’s what you can expect to find once you’ve signed up with your library card.

Movies on Kanopy

While many streaming services are seriously lacking in classic films, this isn’t the case with Kanopy. The service offers a vast selection of movies from the Criterion Collection, an acclaimed home video label known for releasing classic movies from around the world. These movies include Golden Age Hollywood classics, artsy French New Wave films, trailblazing indie titles and more.

Kanopy also has a partnership with A24, the hip film company behind hits like Room (2015), Moonlight (2016) and Lady Bird (2017), so if you’re wanting to brush up on some of the movies that have gotten the most buzz in recent years, look no further!

Other popular movies on Kanopy include Love Story (1970), Paper Moon (1973), Howards End (1992), The Hours (2002) and much more. This is just the tip of the iceberg — there are thousands of movies spanning decades and genres, and there’s something for every taste, whether you’re in the mood for a black-and-white classic, an Oscar winner, or an obscure art film that just might become your new favorite.

TV shows on Kanopy

Just as Kanopy partners with brands like Criterion and A24 for their stellar movie selection, they also have partnerships with PBS, BBC, the History Channel, A&E and Lifetime for their TV selection. That means you can easily watch anything from a juicy true crime series to a cozy British detective show to a binge-worthy reality show to an eye-opening documentary series for free.

If your library offers Kanopy, you have no shortage of fabulous movies and TV shows to explore — all without paying a dime!

Use left and right arrow keys to navigate between menu items. Use right arrow key to move into submenus. Use escape to exit the menu. Use up and down arrow keys to explore. Use left arrow key to move back to the parent list.