As cable boxes continue to disappear from peoples' homes, more smart TVs and streaming devices continue to gain popularity. However, streaming your entertainment has gotten very expensive—as this report indicates—with subscriptions to the top five ad-free streaming services in the U.S. now priced at about $87 per month.
For many, the multiple subscriptions are needed to receive the most popular movies and shows. To get all the content you want, this a-la-carte model has most households subscribing to an average of at least five streaming services.
In there a way to keep your streaming budget in check? Savvy cord-cutters know that having a strategy is crucial, especially when considering how to manage all subscriptions effectively. Check out some of these tips to cut down on your streaming TV costs.
Track your subscriptions
The most popular streaming services are Discovery Plus, Hulu, Paramount Plus, Peacock and Netflix. You might have some of them as channels on your smart TV, or apps on your phone or tablet. But many subscribers lose track and forget all of the services and payments, and have put those payments on autopilot.
Know what you're paying for. One tracking strategy is to put all of your subscriptions on one credit card. That way, it's easy to go over your monthly credit card statements to discover what you're paying, and to cut back if needed.
Another strategy is to subscribe to your services through your Amazon, Apple TV+, or Roku account, so the billing is all in one place. This makes it easy to review each month, and catch any price hikes.
Some people like to create a spreadsheet to monitor all their services. The important thing is to maintain a list, and then remember to check it at least once a month.
Rotate your subscriptions
Many people sign up for a specific streaming service to watch a particular series and then continue subscribing even after they've finished every episode. That's unnecessary and costly. If you've finished your series binge, or if you're seeing a price increase, or start feeling that content is lacking, providers make it easy to jump in and jump out of a service. Since most streaming TV services don't require a long-term contract, you can cancel or switch services at any time.
According to Motley Fool, you may save $500 or more annually by rotating your streaming services instead of paying for them all year. Here's an example of how it works: Sign up for couple of months of Hulu, cancel, and then a couple of months will be Sling. Then, rinse and repeat with another service. Try to cancel the same day you subscribe so you can watch for the month without a perpetual bill. And there's no reason you can't go back to a service later by simply re-subscribing.
To make your selections easier, there are apps that tell you when and where something's streaming on TV.
Remind yourself to cancel
It's smart to set reminders for specific dates, or else be charged for subscriptions you mean to cancel. Once again, a spreadsheet reminder, or setting a calendar reminder can help. For apps, your device's subscription settings can be set up to alert you when a payment is up for renewal. You can also allow a voice assistant like Alexa to notify you of an upcoming bill or streaming release date.
Choose an ad-supported plan
Many streamers are now offering two tiers of service: One with commercials, and another higher price tier that's ad-free. Save a few bucks by choosing the ad-supported plan instead of a more expensive premium plan.
Some streamers allow you to pause your subscription without penalty. Check with your streaming provider to see if you can take a temporary break without canceling.
Look for deals
Streamers offer discounts throughout the year. Just go online and search for the terms "streaming" and "deals" to see the latest offerings, as they usually change monthly. Check out this list of discounts from TechRadar.
Keep an eye open for student discounts and check with your mobile carrier to see which ones offer free streaming subscriptions.
There are a slew of free shows and movies, such as "Mad Men" and "The Green Mile," available on free streaming services like Freevee, Pluto TV, The Roku Channel, and Tubi. These services have original content, too. In exchange for watching, you'll have to put up with some ads.
Consider annual subscriptions
While monthly subscriptions remain the more popular and flexible option for most users, annual subscriptions still have notable benefits to them. For one, they're often cheaper. Here's a list of providers who offer this option.
What happens next?
As little as three years ago, streaming services were one heck of a deal for consumers. But streaming is a costly business, and many leading services like Peacock and Disney+ are still not profitable. Experts believe prices will continue rising—for a couple of reasons.
- They will rise because most streaming services operated at a loss. The media companies are aiming for streaming profitability in 2024.
- With the Hollywood strikes over, media companies have agreed to spend more to actors and writers to obtain quality content. Therefore, they will need to raise subscription prices to raise revenue to pay for that content.
- Streaming has established itself as the new default for home entertainment, giving streamers enough confidence to crank up pricing without fear that it would lead to a mass exodus of subscribers.
The landscape shift means these new 2024 trends will emerge.
- Streamers will merge as mid-level players like Peacock and Paramount+ will be facing increasing economic pressure to join bigger companies.
- You'll see bundling of subscriptions—as providers will work together to create stickiness amongst their consumers,
- And you'll see more on ad-supported offerings.