Hoopla, best known for providing free e-book rentals in cooperation with local libraries, is expanding to the living room: The service launched a new app for Amazon’s Fire TV and Apple TV this week that promises free, ad-free access to movies and TV shows. Apps for Roku and Android TV are supposed to follow soon as well.
Hoopla is the digital offshoot of Midwest Tape, a company that has been providing DVDs and audio books to public libraries across the country for decades. Hoopla does much of the same, albeit with a slightly more modern twist: The service allows consumers to borrow a set number of e-books, audio books, music albums, movies or TV show episodes per month for free. And just like anything coming from your public library, there are no ads whatsoever.
The service launched in 2013 with apps for phones and tablets, and subsequently added Chromecast support to enable video viewing on the TV screen. This week, Hoopla officially went live on Fire TV and Apple TV as well, with a release for Android TV coming later this week. Roku support is promised for the near future as well, with a developer telling users on Reddit that the company may release a preview version for the platform first.
It’s worth noting that Hoopla can’t quite compete with the iTunes store, or Netflix for that matter. For one thing, the service’s movie and TV catalog is relatively small, and largely consists of catalog titles.
What’s more, local libraries limit the number of titles a user can borrow. In some cases, the limit is at ten titles per month, while other libraries limit monthly borrowing to just five titles. Altogether, Hoopla works with around 7000 libraries across the U.S. and Canada.