With the number of streaming services now available, and the constant price increases that seem to be affecting the market, it literally pays to get into the habit of rotating subscriptions. Although it may take an extra degree or two of management, the savings are there to be had, while opening up the amount of content that’s available to the individual or household.
Netflix might be one of the originals and a staple subscription for many, but it is now only one of a number of streaming services that are available. To put the situation into perspective, here are 90 streaming services you could be using right now. While some of them are free services, the majority require a payment to be made each month. That’s a lot of ‘per month’ costs which can quickly add up unless checked.
While no single person is going to subscribe to all of the streaming services out there, the number of subscriptions per household has increased and is likely to continue to increase in the future. For some households, that might not be an issue. For the rest of us, it is time to start thinking about rotating services.
Streaming service loyalty doesn’t pay
Whether it is live TV or on demand, many services attempt to cultivate a community. These services want you to feel like you belong and that’s because you’re paying for the service. However, there’s no reason to stay loyal to any streaming service. After all, they have no intention of rewarding loyalty.
There used to be a time when loyalty mattered. For example, YouTube TV launched at just $35 per month and although the service saw a couple of price increases in the early years, loyal subscribers were protected and locked-in to a lower rate. The same was originally true for DirecTV Now subscribers with grandfathered pricing as well. However, over the years the times have changed and now those same YouTube TV and DirecTV Now subscribers (the latter of which have since become AT&T TV Now only to then become AT&T TV and most recently DirecTV Stream subscribers) probably don’t feel like they’ve been rewarded for their loyalty.
If anything, these services tend to prioritize new subscribers over loyal ones with extended free trials, discounts on a certain number of months when prepaying, and even free devices. Again, this is not just an issue with live TV services, but streaming services in general. Put simply, it doesn’t pay to be loyal.
Learn to rotate services
By design, it is very easy to sign up to a streaming service. Equally by design, it is more difficult to cancel a streaming service. This situation can make it very easy to just get stuck in a cycle where you sign up and can’t be bothered to cancel again. However, that’s a bad habit and one that should be broken as soon as possible.
Take any streaming service. Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max or Disney+, the name doesn’t really matter. Whichever service you are thinking of, you don’t need to stay subscribed year-round. The reality is, you probably only want to watch a few shows or movies on a service each year and most of the time are watching shows and movies because they are on the service you are already subscribed to.
When taking these points together, you could stay subscribed to your Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, Disney+, or whatever the name, is for a couple of months and still watch all of the shows and movies you wanted to. Fast-forward a year and any new shows and movies that you’ve missed can be caught up on again, and within a couple of months. Taking this example absolutely literally, then that frees up 10 months of a subscription each year. On that basis alone, an individual or household could cycle through 5-6 streaming services over the course of the year, see all of the shows and movies they want to, and all while only paying the same amount each month as they would for a single subscription.
Now, this is a very isolated example and the reality will vary considerably between homes, but the general point and logic still applies. There is no need to subscribe to any service for the entire year. If one or two subscription are already feeling exhausted and you find yourself spending more time looking for something to watch than actuality watching something, it’s time to cancel. After all, you’re probably not receiving any super discount or earning any loyalty points so canceling makes no difference. If the service suddenly has a show or movie you want to watch the very next month, no problem, just sign up again. You already saved at least one month’s worth of a subscription. Remember, it is very easy to sign up to a streaming service and even easier when you’re restarting a subscription.
Annual plans are an exception
Generally speaking, I’m not one for recommending annual plans and for the very reasons mentioned above. Namely, you’re committing to a streaming service for the year without any real reason to. However, annual plans can be an exception in some cases.
Everyone has their preferred streaming services, or shows and movie franchises they are happy to watch over and over again. In these cases, it may make sense to remain subscribed for longer than other services. If that service also happens to offer a discount over the course of the year when paying annually, then it makes sense to commit and take advantage of the lower price. The difference is, the consumer is aware of the value for the year ahead and are only paying once for the service and at a cheaper rate than normal. The next year they can make the decision again and either re-subscribe at the cheaper rate or rotate to a different annual subscription for the next year.
Again, everyone’s situation and streaming tastes are going to be different and we are speaking very loosely here in terms of single subscriptions, but it doesn’t really matter how many streaming services are involved. If you currently subscribe to ten services, then why not consider subscribing to five of them for six months and then the other five for the other six months? You’ll still get access to all the same content over the year, but will save and probably a lot if we’re talking in terms of multiple subscriptions.
Develop healthy streaming habits now
Yes, you may miss out on the buzz when the next Squid Game or Only Murders In The Building hits social media, but does it really matter? You will eventually see the show and it will cost you less over the course of the year. Not to mention, most shows still tend to follow the traditional cable route of releasing episodes on a weekly basis. If you’re anything like me, you’ll much prefer binging the show than paying for three to four months just for 42 minutes of a show each week. Arguably, you could buy the show for the same cost as staying subscribed for the length of time it takes to get through weekly episodes.
Buzz is simply a marketing tool and while you should be watching great shows and movies, you shouldn’t pay more than you need to in the process. While sites (including this one) will often link to services and may earn a commission if you sign up, only sign up if the service is of value. As importantly, signing up is different to remaining a subscriber permanently.
Overall, consumers should get into the habit of only paying for what they consume and stop paying once that consumption dries up or starts to feel forced. The next Squid Game or Only Murders In The Building is probably only one or two months away and you will eventually end up coming back to the same service anyway. You just may as well save during the quieter months by rotating streaming services.