Midwest Tape’s pay-per-circ streaming media service hoopla has announced the addition of thousands of popular movies and television shows to its lineup, through new agreements with Universal Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, National Geographic, and BBC America. New content available to patrons at public libraries includes popular movies such as Scarface and Pride and Prejudice, television series such as House of Cards, and educational shows such as Great Migrations, Secret Yellowstone and The Planets.
“We have tons of content that was never available to libraries digitally before,” Jeff Jankowski, vice president of Midwest Tape and founder of hoopla digital, told LJ.
In addition, hoopla this week unveiled its enhanced 2.0 interface for Android, Apple iOS, and the web, featuring a new design and compatibility with Apple TV streaming devices, which will facilitate the viewing of hoopla content on large screen televisions. The upgrade also features browsing by title suggestion, and enables users to view or listen to content while browsing. Almost all content can be either streamed or downloaded for a specific checkout period.
Midwest Tape does not charge setup, maintenance, or subscription fees for hoopla. Instead, the service offers streaming movies, TV shows, audiobooks, and music for library patrons on a per-circ basis. Content varies in price, but almost all titles currently range from $0.99 to $2.99 per circ, and Jankowski said that libraries offering the service are currently averaging $1.80 per circ for all content across all formats. All content is available via an unlimited simultaneous use model. Jankowski contends that the per-circ pricing model benefits patrons, who do not have to place content on hold, as well as libraries. For example, a library that pays $90 for a popular audiobook under a one-user, one-audiobook model with a three week lending period may only be able to circulate that title a maximum of 17 times during the first year after purchase. This results in a price per-circ of $5.29 during the year that a new release would be at peak popularity.
To help budget for usage of the service, hoopla offers tools that enable libraries to set patron loan limits, establish spending limits for the entire library, or opt out of certain content by format and price point.
“Our model is so different, and our approach is so different that the only scary part of it is ‘how do I budget for it?’” said Jankowski. “I think we’ve addressed that really well with our partners. We give them all kinds of tools to manage usage.”
The service has proven very popular since its official launch in July. More than 40 North American library systems currently offer the service, including the Seattle Public Library, Los Angeles Public Library, Salt Lake Public Library, Edmonton Public Library, and Hamilton Public Library. The company notes that dozens more have signed agreements to offer hoopla prior to the end of the year.
Some libraries have also used the service to help generate buzz among young adults. Recently, hoopla worked with the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library and the University of Toledo, as well as the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County and the University of Cincinnati, on events at their respective local universities. The goal was to sign up students for library cards and to introduce them to services available at these library systems.
“Our libraries have told us if we set up a booth at the student union, we normally sign up a maximum of 20 to 30 cardholders per day,” Jankowski said. With hoopla offering demos at its booth during this year’s event, “we signed up more than 150 cardholders per day.”
Hoopla’s music streaming collection was a key draw for these college students, Jankowski said. Both library systems currently allow patrons to borrow and stream entire music albums from hoopla for up to seven days.
“Our [hoopla] video offering is really kind of in its infancy compared to where we’re at with music and audiobooks,” Jankowski said. “In music, typically during any given week, we have 70 to 80 percent of what’s on Billboard’s Top 40 list, and we have them on street date.”
As a business grounded in the sale of more traditional media to libraries, Midwest Tape has a stake in the future of DVDs, CDs, and regular audiobooks. But Jankowski notes that this market is undergoing rapid changes with the advent of streaming and DVR recording technology.
“The expectation of the consumer, especially the younger consumer, is ‘why do I need a schedule? I want to watch whatever I want to watch, on whatever device I want to watch it on,’” he said.