Saving money is always a great idea, but with inflation eating into everything and streaming service price hikes, cutting streaming expenses feels particularly important. Here’s how to save money while still enjoying your favorite streaming services.
Once upon a time, streaming services were few and far between. Many people had a cable bill and then Netflix on top of that. As time went on, quite a few people dropped cable altogether and replaced it with… more streaming services.
The individual streaming services don’t seem like much of an expense: $20 here, $8 there, and so on. But if you subscribe to a bunch of services, it adds up quickly. Especially when the price of your streaming services starts creeping upward just like your old cable bill did.
Here’s what various services cost per month and year of April 2022. (The prices are for the version of the service that is 4K-capable and ad-free, where applicable, and the yearly cost includes any discounts offered for year-at-a-time payment.)
|Streaming Service||Monthly Cost||Yearly Cost|
|Amazon Prime Video||$8||$96|
Subscribing to every service above for a year would run you just over a thousand dollars. Even when you consider that most people don’t subscribe to all of them, that the cost of something like Amazon Prime Video might be a sunk cost for some folks (because they subscribe to Amazon Prime and get it for “free”), and that you can bundle some services (like Hulu, ESPN+ and Disney+ to save), it’s still hundreds and hundreds of dollars a year.
But do most of us actually watch all of these services enough to justify having 24/7 access to them 365 days a year? There’s only so much TV any one person, or even a family, can watch—right?
I can’t speak for everyone reading this, but I know for every streaming service I subscribe to, I watch stuff in blocks. If I broke my actual viewing habits down into a pattern of “I should pay for Netflix this month because I’m going to watch X, Y, and Z” or “I shouldn’t pay for HBO Max because I’ve already binge-watched all the best shows I wanted to see this year,” I would save quite a sum of money every year.
So what should I do to save? I should rotate my streaming services—and there’s a good chance you should, too.
Rotating your streaming services is a money-saving tactic we’ve advocated for in the past, and frankly, with the rising price of everything, it’s probably time more people start doing it.
Rather than getting stuck in the rut of complaining that there’s nothing but random trash on Netflix anymore or that you’ve burned through all the top-tier content on HBO Max, we’re going to recommend a different tact: plan your viewing. When Stranger Things season 4 drops on Netflix in May, make that the month you care about Netflix enough to subscribe. Unabashed Pretty Little Liars fan? Re-up your HBO Max subscription later this year when Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin drops. Your favorite sport is in season? Subscribe to ESPN+ again.
But in the meantime, it’s OK to cancel the subscriptions you’re not using. Why spend that $20 here, and $15 there, just for the privilege of not even using the service or opening it up, scrolling aimlessly in search of something good?
If you embrace this method of consciously watching the good TV you’re actually looking forward to, instead of keeping streaming services on standby just in case, you can save hundreds of dollars a year.
Here’s a bonus tip: If you use a TV show-tracking app, you’ll always be able to keep on top of when new episodes of your favorite shows are released, and you’ll have some idea of what services you might want to subscribe to.