I'll admit, I myself had never heard of Kanopy until a few weeks ago. Now that I do know what is, however, I watch it all the time. Chances are most people reading this haven't heard of it either. In this Kanopy review, I'll explain why you should try it out.
What is Kanopy?
Kanopy is a free streaming service that provides critically acclaimed films, documentaries, and educational content. It is offered as a service through public libraries and universities. All of their content is ad-free.
According to their website, Kanopy's mission is to “democratize meaningful film and television.” You'll find content aimed at both adults and kids. Kanopy can accessed through both their website and their app, which is available on various platforms (more on that below).
How to Access Kanopy
Kanopy is currently available to over 4,000 libraries and 158 million library card holders. To see if your university or public library has access to Kanopy, visit their page here to look them up.
Once you've found them in their directory, you'll be prompted to enter either your library card number or university login. If you don't have a library card, Kanopy will direct you on how to get one at your local library (P.S. public libraries are free, you know).
This may vary a little depending on your library or university, but with my library system I'm given 10 “Kanopy credits” per month. Every time I watch a movie, it uses a credit. I have 72 hours to view the movie before using another. The credits reset on the first of every calendar month.
There are two content hubs that do not require credits, however. Those are Kanopy Kids and The Great Courses. You can watch their content on repeat without any credits.
What's on Kanopy?
Kanopy focuses on “thoughtful entertainment.” They have partnerships with The Criterion Collection, A24, Paramount Pictures, Kino Lorber, the Samuel Goldwyn Company, and The Great Courses. Their kid's selection has partnerships with PBS Kids, Sesame Street, and Shout! Factory.
As Netflix has drifted away from classic cinema, niche programming, and documentaries, Kanopy helps fill that void. Popular titles include Award winners like Parasite, Lady Bird, and Moonlight. Documentaries include Super Size Me, An Inconvenient Truth, and I Am Big Bird. Classics include Angel and the Badman, Chinatown, and Guys and Dolls. You'll find some of the edgiest horror like Hereditary to light-hearted comedy like GalaxyQuest.
What I like about Kanopy is it doesn't always put its biggest name content front and center. You have to explore a bit, digging through content and discovering hidden gems along the way. Much like someone would at, dare I say, a public library?
There is a big of overlap I've noticed between Kanopy's content library with Amazon Prime Video and Hulu. So if you're looking to cut back on some streaming services, this could be a helpful, free way to do so.
One last thing to reiterate is that there are no ads. Unlike other free streaming sites, you'll have a pure, uninterrupted experience.
The Kanopy App & Where to Get It
If there is one drawback to Kanopy, it's the the app itself isn't exactly perfect. It loads up a little bit slower on my Apple TV than other streaming apps, which could create issues if you have an older device or slower internet connection. The menus themselves are a little jittery.
As someone who normally watches movies with subtitles on, I was a bit frustrated that a film I watched had subtitles that didn't quite match up with the actor's voices.
On top of that, certain premium features are not available through Kanopy like offline play and 4K streaming.
Despite all of this, I'm grading on a curve because the app is, of course, free and the content selection is fantastic. Features you will find include parental controls, the ability to create watchlists (plus share them with others), and no limits on concurrent streams for a Kanopy account. If you have access to Kanopy through BOTH a university and a public library system, both memberships can be added to one account.
Kanopy can be viewed through their website with a browser, on mobile devices, and smart TVs. There are a wide range of devices supported- Apple, Android, Chromecast, Amazon, Samsung TV, and Roku. The only notable exceptions seems to be game consoles. You can find the full list of devices here.
Kanopy Review Wrap-Up
If you are a fan of independent films, arthouse cinema, or classic movies, Kanopy is quite simply a goldmine of hidden gems. While there are no shortage of free streaming apps out there, Kanopy seems to be the only free streaming service that provides excellent content without advertising.
Whether you are looking to find some entertainment or brush up on your world history knowledge with The Great Courses, Kanopy is a fantastic choice.
Sign up for Kanopy here
Best for: Fans of arthouse films, documentaries, and classic movies
Shall I stream it? Absolutely!