For all the benefits that streaming brings, there are issues, and the rising cost of streaming TV and video is becoming one of the most problematic. However, there are some general ways to help lower the cost of streaming, and most of them won’t require sacrificing the number of subscriptions.
This guide looks to provide real-world examples of the tips discussed to help highlight the level of savings that can be had by making some changes to the way we stream – all of these are tips that we’ve used ourselves over the years and will continue to in the future. For those that would just prefer to see the 7 tips, or jump to a specific one for more information, here they are:
- Promotion eligibility
- Bundle services
- Ad-supported plans
- Skip 4K
- Annual plans
- Rotate services
- Free services
1. Check which discounts you’re eligible for
While it is possible to reduce the price of a subscription, it is also possible to completely remove the cost of some. Exactly which service(s) an individual home is capable of saving on will vary, depending on their existing services and products. However, checking what a home is eligible for can greatly help save on the cost of streaming.
One of the best examples of this right now is T-Mobile. The self proclaimed uncarrier offers major savings on a number of streaming services. For example, just by having a T-Mobile wireless mobile plan, a home could potentially save on Apple TV Plus, Discovery Plus, or Paramount Plus. Some homes may even find they are eligible to save on all of these services at the same time. Even at the live TV level, T-Mobile Home Internet customers can also save on the monthly price of a YouTube TV subscription.
Again, T-Mobile is not the only service offering promotions and Verizon is another good example. Depending on the plan, Verizon currently offers deals on the Disney Bundle, which includes Disney Plus, Hulu, and ESPN Plus. Another example, and one which isn’t reliant on a mobile or home internet plan, is how Walmart has started gifting free Paramount Plus subscriptions to its Walmart Plus customers.
Yet another example is Apple TV Plus. With this being a service that’s offered by Apple, the company tends to gift Apple TV Plus subscriptions to those that own an Apple device. The exact length of the subscription typically depends on the device and when it was purchased, but taking advantage of the gifted subscription will further help to drive down the cost of streaming.
2. Consider bundling services
While the first tip focused on seeing what services a home can bundle with third-party companies, consumers can always proactively bundle subscriptions together to help lower the cost. A really good example here is the Disney Bundle. If already paying for Disney Plus, ESPN Plus, or basic Hulu, and especially if already paying for two of these services separately, households may find they can save significantly on the overall cost by bundling all three together.
Furthermore, if also already paying for a live TV subscription (that’s not Hulu Live TV), then it might be worth considering switching to Hulu. For a price similar to YouTube TV, fuboTV and DirecTV Stream, Hulu subscribers not only get access to Hulu’s live TV channel lineup, but also basic Hulu, Disney Plus and ESPN Plus as well.
Another example is Paramount Plus and Showtime. These two subscriptions can also be bundled together, with Paramount’s bundle price significantly lower than the combined price of both services. To highlight the savings on offer, while Paramount Plus starts at $4.99 per month (and Showtime at $10.99 per month), the combined Paramount Plus and Showtime subscription starts at $7.99 per month.
While it is not possible to bundle every subscription out there, homes might be surprised at how many bundles are available and how much the savings can help lower a home’s monthly spend on streaming.
3. Consider switching to ad-supported plans
No one likes ads. No one. However, they are a great way to lower the cost of streaming. If only paying for one subscription each month then it might not matter that the subscriber is paying for an ad-free plan. However, if paying for 5, or even 10, different subscriptions each month, the cost of all of those ad-free plans can quickly add up.
Nearly every streaming service, excluding live TV services, offers an ad-free option. In fact, even those services that haven’t offered an ad-supported plan in the past are now planning to, with both Disney Plus and Netflix prime examples. Opting to change from an ad-free plan to an ad-supported plan generally won’t result in losing access to any content, and will make watching shows and movies a little longer, but it can lower the monthly cost of each subscription, sometimes significantly.
As an example of the ad-supporting savings on offer with popular subscriptions right now, subscribers can save as much as $5 on HBO Max, Paramount Plus, and Peacock. That’s $5 per month for each of these services, resulting in $15 saving each month for anyone signed up to all three at the same time. If signed up to even more services at the same time, the monthly savings could be even higher.
4. Skip the 4K
Ad-free is not the only benefit that a home can skip in a bid to keep costs low, with 4K another great example. In fact, many homes might not even realize that they are already paying more for 4K or that they might not be getting the improved picture quality as often as they think they are. Either way, cutting out 4K can be a great way to save on the cost.
Now, this tip won’t be as widely available as some of the others considering not all streaming services offer 4K. However, that in itself is an example of how unnecessary the higher resolution is. Netflix is a great example here considering its 4K plan significantly increases the price. While the cheapest Basic plan costs $9.99 per month, the Premium plan costs $19.99 per month. Yes, the more expensive plan does also allow for streaming on multiple devices at the same time, but so does the Standard plan. While this middle plan also reduces the video quality down to HD, it also reduces the price down to $15.49 per month.
If not in need of 4K, or watching on up to 4 devices at the same time, then there’s no reason to be paying for the most expensive Netflix plan. This also goes for any other streaming services that are charging extra each month or year to watch in 4K.
5. Annual plans offer big savings
Another surefire way to save on the cost of streaming over a 12-month period is to sign up to an annual plan. Any time a consumer commits to a much longer subscription, streaming services tend to be generous in the discounts they offer. All of which means even more savings on streaming.
For example, services like HBO Max and Paramount Plus offer as much as 16% off the cost when paying annually. A really crazy example of just how much can potentially be saved with an annual plan is DAZN. While the standard DAZN subscription costs $19.99 per month ($240 over 12 months), the annual plan is priced at just $149.99 per year. That’s the equivalent to only paying for 7.5 months each year.
Of course, not all streaming services offer an annual option so this one will suit some homes better than others, depending on which services they are signed up to. Not to mention, subscribers should be sure that they are likely to remain a subscriber to a particular service for an entire year before committing and paying for the annual plan. This is especially true considering the yearly fee has to be paid in advance and there isn’t usually an option to get a refund if canceling early. Still, for those all-year, must-have subscriptions, an annual plan is one of the easiest ways to save on the the cost of streaming.
6. It pays to rotate services
Arguably, the best way to save on the cost of streaming services is to actually only pay for the ones you are using at the time. While this approach requires more management by the subscriber, it is a great way to save on the amount spent on streaming each year. Right now, there are simply too many streaming services for consumers to watch each month, so it is worth limiting how many a home is signed up to at the same time and then switching as and when needed.
This act of rotating streaming services will ensure that consumers only pay for the services that they are currently watching. Cancelling a streaming service is super easy and reactivating the subscription again at a later time can be done in seconds. When a new show or movie hits that particular streaming service, signing back up won’t require much more than logging in to the account and re-enabling the subscription. Then, when the show or movie has finished, simply cancel the subscription again. The subscriber will retain access for the remainder of the billing cycle, so there’s no need to wait until the last minute to hit the cancel button.
If opting to take advantage of annual plans, rotating can still help to keep the costs low and manageable. For example, instead of signing up to every annual plan this month, sign up to one and then sign up to another next month. This approach of spreading the annual subscriptions out over the year will not only ensure the subscriber isn’t paying more than they need to today, but also that they don’t end up with a bunch of annual subscription all renewing at the same time.
7. Make use of free services
The rise of the free streaming services has been one of the real major developments in recent years. Although these services do heavily rely on the use of ads to generate revenue, households don’t have to worry about paying for a monthly or annual subscription to access the service. All of which makes these services an incredibly useful way to save on the cost of streaming.
In fact, some households may be quite surprised at how good some of the best free streaming services now are. Pluto TV and Tubi are two highly popular examples, and both not only feature an easy to use interface (and apps for most devices), but they also offer an extensive on-demand movie and series library for households to watch. Both actually offer a live TV experience as well, even though this is more of a curated experience than what many might expect form a traditional live TV service.
Not only has the last few years seen a number of free services launch, but it has also seen existing services offering free tiers. As an example, while Peacock does offer two paid Premium plans, it also offers a free tier as well. Yes, these free tiers always result in a more limited experience, but they are still free. Sling TV is yet another service that offers a free tier for those that don’t want to pay, or can’t pay, for an existing live TV subscription.
Save on streaming costs: summary
There are plenty of ways to save on the cost of streaming each month and most won’t actually require the household to sacrifice the content that they have access to. While they will be making compromises in some cases, such as sitting through ads, lowering the resolution quality, or paying more upfront for an annual plan, each of these are ways to help ensure a home can access all of the services and content they want.
What’s more, most of these tips on streaming services are not either-or situations. Many of these can actually be used in conjunction with others, further increasing the amount a home saves on streaming overall. Whether that money is then used for other streaming services, for bills, or just saved, it is still money back in the subscriber’s pocket.