STREAMING SATURDAY: Cancel Netflix, get Kanopy

The first time I told you to cancel Netflix was, as far as I can tell, about six years ago. You can check it out here. I had some specific complaints about Netflix, which was already beginning its transition from must-have to also-ran. In the meantime, the streamer has had several price increases, and lately it’s begun to feel like there’s nothing left to watch despite their massive library. Once known for its “must-see” collection of original content, or at least reruns of Friends and The Office, lately it’s hard for me to justify the high cost considering the low return.

Finally, it’s not just me

It seems like I’m not alone. All of a sudden a lot of folks are on the “cancel Netflix” bandwagon, and it’s probably a combination of two things. Netflix is, as far as I can tell, the flat out most expensive streamer of its type. To get a 4K plan you’re in for $19.99 a month, which puts it above HBO Max, an app with a much more desirable content library. The pricing is definitely way out of whack, and people are finally noticing.

The other thing that’s got people buzzing is the lack of quality content. Sure, Netflix has been giving you little dribbles of content you have to see, from Inventing Anna to The Queen’s Gambit to, well, any other semi-truthful retelling of something happening to a young, slender woman. But it seems their latest hopeful, Bridgerton‘s season 2, has simply fallen flat. It’s caused a lot of people to admit they only watched season one for the nudity and steaminess. Take those away and you have a relatively… nice… period drama with no real reason to exist.

So, once again dear readers I’m suggesting you toss Netflix. What should you replace it with? Try Kanopy.

Kanopy, you say?

Kanopy is an app that’s associated with local libraries. You remember libraries, right? The things with the books that were probably closed for a year because of Covid and you’re not sure because you never went there anyway? It turns out most public libraries let you sign up for a streaming service called Kanopy. It gives you a lot of really high quality content for absolutely free. You’re limited to about 15-20 plays per month depending on the deal your library has. But, keep in mind that’s enough to watch a feature film pretty much every weekday of the month.

Kanopy isn’t always about the most highbrow stuff, but you will find that sort of thing there. The best quality films, culturally significant stuff, documentaries, and so on. You’ll also find the best international films and award winners from previous years. But every so often you’ll also find films with very little cultural merit that are just plain fun. They’re well organized and the “recently added” section is actually things that were recently added. Try saying either of those things about Netflix.

Kanopy is also free if you have a login to the computer systems in any participating university. I’m told in some cases this includes alumni accounts. The point is that it’s pretty likely you have access to Kanopy. If you don’t, go down to your local library (you may have to google where it is) and find out why not. You can find out more by going to Kanopy’s web site.

Hey and here’s an idea

You know that $240 a year you were spending on Netflix? Maybe donate it to the local library because as much as I make fun of them, they are really critical institutions that help people in need, especially in underserved communities. For people who are trying to better themselves, they may be the only source for reliable internet they have. The old saying “Libraries will get you through times with no money more than money will get you through times with no libraries” really is true. You may not have set foot in one since you were a kid but why not make sure today’s kids (and tomorrow’s) still have the opportunity?

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.