Maury Loontjens Memorial Library to host informational streaming seminars
NARRAGANSETT – Navigating, or browsing, the current media streaming landscape, which includes services such as Netflix, Hulu and HBO Now, can be daunting. The vast and ever-increasing variety of film and television options available on these platforms can leave many feeling confused or overwhelmed. And with new streaming services always looking to get in on the action, constantly shifting intellectual property rights and the introduction of original programming from streaming companies, deciding which apps deserve our subscription and patronage becomes a complicated question. This month, the Maury Loontjens Memorial Library hopes to ease some of the anxiety and mystery surrounding the many different streaming options available by hosting two “streaming service deep dives” that are free and open to the public and coincide with the rollout of a likely titan incoming to the streaming world, Disney+.
“There is absolutely a digital divide,” said Sam Judd, Maury Loontjens Memorial Library Reference and Information Services Librarian, when asked if certain populations feel isolated by the new streaming phenomenon and what role the library held in assisting those groups. “We will always offer access to DVDs that you can just put into a player and watch as long as the demand exists. Even if the DVD is not available in our system, the library can request them from other libraries throughout the country.”
According to Market Watch, the global video streaming market is estimated to be worth $124.57 billion by 2025. Similar data indicates about 55 percent of U.S. households have a paid streaming service, according to Statista. Finally, over a quarter of U.S. consumers report not using traditional cable television, and 56 percent of cable customers claim they only subscribe to the method because it’s included with their internet plan. The data indicates times are changing when it comes to media consumption. Though with the growth of streaming, and many media companies just now realizing its potential and creating their own platforms, simultaneously taking their content off the competition’s services, many consumers have grown wary of the content they previously enjoyed over one or two streaming platforms now being split between five, six or seven different options. In essence, they wonder, what would be the difference between that scenario and traditional cable?
“There are a lot of different options,” said Judd. “With Disney, NBC, and WarnerMedia (through HBO Max) coming out with their own inclusive streaming services, there’s a fear that people will have to pay for many different services to get the same content access they were getting with just Netflix or Hulu.”
Judd, who will be leading both of the streaming deep dives at the library this month, hopes to address this topic among many others during the workshops. One such subject includes the Nov. 12 rollout of Disney+, Disney’s new and exclusive streaming service, which promises to feature content from all spectrums of the Walt Disney Company, including Star Wars, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), Pixar Animation Studios (“Toy Story,” “Inside Out”) and Walt Disney Animation Studios (“The Little Mermaid,” “The Lion King”). In the wake of its debut, Disney has removed or is planning to remove many of its titles from Netflix, which previously received many of the latest Star Wars and MCU films just after their release on home video. The upcoming introduction of Disney+, with the Walt Disney Company’s recent acquisition of 21st Century Fox (giving it exclusive rights to “The Simpsons”), promises to shake up the streaming landscape, as the new service will boast many, many popular titles among mainstream moviegoing and television-viewing audiences.
“I’m personally excited for Disney+,” shares Judd. “I’m definitely going to cover it, which is why I have the program scheduled for right after its release.”
In an effort to navigate what’s on what, Judd recommends a website and app called JustWatch, which allows users to search a film or television series by title and view which platforms it is currently available on. Unfortunately, the topic gets even more confusing with services such as Amazon Prime Video or Vudu, which offer free-to-stream content with a subscription but also a vast library of titles available for digital rent or purchase.
“Services like Prime Video and Vudu are definitely confusing because of the mixed content,” said Judd. “I think the program is going to be more tailored to the audience, but I will definitely go into the major services like Netflix and Prime Video.”
In addition to Maury Loontjens’ large library of films and television series on home video in the form of DVD and Blu-ray, the library also offers Roku Sticks for one-week check outs by the public. With an HDTV and an internet connection, Roku Sticks provide access to over 200 movies available to stream. One can also access streaming platforms such as Netflix and Hulu via the device, but an existing subscription is required to use those services via the stick.
The Streaming Service Deep Dive with Judd will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 13 at 5:30 p.m. and again on Thursday, Nov. 14 at 12:30 p.m. at Maury Loontjens Memorial Library, 35 Kingstown Road.
“Have you been looking at picking up a streaming service with the holidays coming up?” A blurb on the library’s website describing the event reads. “Are you curious about the new Disney+ streaming service? Or are you overwhelmed by the amount of options available? Join us as we take a deep look at several different streaming services, both paid for and free, and see how they can fit your entertainment needs.”
Registration for the event is required. Interested parties can sign up at narlib.org.
Judd will also be running a “cutting the cord” program in January, which the information and reference librarian states will relay a broader overview of streaming services and examine the longevity of certain platforms.