Posts Tagged streaming

Streaming movies and television – Is it a good lending fit for public libraries?

2015 has been the year of streaming.  Streaming is shared media (watching movies and music from the internet). Playing media on one device when the media is saved on another (a computer, website, server or network), but the file is not moved or copied to the device that is playing it. New Zealand has been flooded with options like NetflixLightboxNeon.

So many options for television and movie viewing might mean dvds may soon be a distant memory. Blayne Slabbert, for Stuff, explains ” DVDs will be around for a while yet however in the long-term they will go the way of the cassette tape…what can be made digital will be made digital (or in this case, what can go online will go online)”. However, with prices of these services soon set to rise with the introduction of the ‘download or Netflix tax’, estimated to generate $40million dollars in GST revenue on ebooks, music and digital TV, will customers turn to public libraries as a free (or cheaper) source of streaming?

As explained in this article libraries are not only about books.  Customers have been able to borrow a wide selection of dvds (or blurays), often free or at a low fee, for a number of years and the newest format available is streaming video is quickly becoming popular. The Los Angeles Times blog states “Libraries are a bigger source of DVDs than Netflix……more people get DVDs from libraries than from Netflix…….Every day, public libraries loan out 2.1 million DVDs, slightly more than Netflix’s 2 million daily rentals”. This blog was from 2010, but has anything changed?

Do New Zealand public libraries need to jump on the streaming bandwagon? 

Alan Mask may be like many of our customers, when he writes about five reasons borrowing dvds from the library is better than subscribing to a streaming service.  He highlights the lack of bandwidth and disruption to internet service which often makes streaming at peak times almost impossible for many.

Would this content add value to our library services?  eBooks have become an important part of our collection and a streaming movie service may be the next step in our evolution to stay relevant to our audience and provide services they demand.

If ‘Yes’ then ‘How?’

Matt Enis explains several different providers including Hoopla and Roku are helping libraries deliver streaming to their customers in USA.  Overdrive Media, which many libraries in New Zealand are familiar with from their ebook and eAudiobook platform, also offer a streaming service.  It may just be the next step to upgrade to the Overdrive Next Generation Platform.  They say “Users won’t need to download apps or activate a device. This instant-access technology enables users to check out a video….and immediately start watching or listening in any web browser”.

Other considerations.

  • Kathy Brown said at the 2015 Nethui “In the mobile space, there is a huge gap between those who have a lot of connectivity and those who have none”.  Is the provision of movie streaming services by public libraries just a reinforcement of the digital divide? Or is it helping to close the divide?
  • Is it a good fit with our community? Will the uptake justify the investment? Stuff explains ” You’ll need a broadband connection with a speed of about 4Mbs or higher and a good data allowance. About 30GB to 40GB a month (You’ll use about 2.3GB an hour to stream high-definition shows)”. Does our community have access to the internet speed for watching streamed movies or television?

My Verdict

Streaming services would align with our service delivery goals well.  Our customers have access to the infrastructure required to enable this service.  It would add equitable access and value to those who are not able to afford these services.  It would also be an add on to the current Overdrive eBook and e Audiobook service we offer, and may add impetus to this service which is currently underutilised.


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