It’s getting out of hand. Where average prices used to be under $10 per month, some are now unapologetically reaching $20. Subscription tiers under $10 are still available if you are willing to sit through commercials.
As each studio and broadcast TV station pulls back titles from aggregate services like Netflix and Amazon Prime, the number of paid streaming services grows. Peacock took back many current season NBC shows, so you can no longer watch them on Hulu. Not only are we paying more for each subscription, but we also have to subscribe to more services.
If we aren’t smart about managing our subscriptions, our monthly streaming spending will look like our old cable bill (or more).
Recent Price Hikes
As streaming services raise their prices, on the one hand, they are offering lower-priced ad-supported plans to keep budget-conscious subscribers. One of the benefits of streaming used to be that there were no commercials, but that’s changed. Services can be affordable if you’re willing to endure ads. While it seems like they’ve added value to the premium ad-free tier, there are no extra features to justify higher prices.
Netflix started the year of price hikes by raising its Premium 4K HDR tier to $20. But if you don’t care about getting the best quality, you can pay $7 with its new ad-supported HD plan.
Hulu also started offering an ad-supported plan this year for $8 and an ad-supported Disney bundle trio—Hulu, Disney+, and ESPN+—for $13 per month. These “deals” are an attempt to balance out higher prices for the ad-free tier that jumped $2 to $15 per month and the ad-free bundle at $20 per month. ESPN’s rates also went up $3.
When Disney+ first launched at $7 per month. The monthly price for Disney+ Premium rises on December 8th from $8 per month to $11.
Where You Can Still Get Deals
If you read this on December 7th and act fast, you can lock in the yearly Disney+ plan of $80 per year. This is a 39% savings compared to the cost of twelve months of a monthly Disney+ Premium (No Ads) plan starting on or after December 8th. However, it will renew next year at $110.
Paramount+ has extended its Black Friday deals until January 3rd. At 50% off, the yearly subscription is a substantial saving. The premium no-ads tier is only $50 for the year. It might be worth canceling and creating a new account with another email if you are a current subscriber.
You can get the Paramount+ ad-supported Essential plan for free with a Walmart Plus membership.
Sign up for Showtime by January 3rd and pay $4 per month for the first six months (after which it will be $7 each month).
Tips for Lowering Subscription Costs
While the sum of all of the monthly subscription charges may equal or exceed your previous cable bill, there is a big difference. Streaming services allow you to cancel and renew anytime or pause your monthly subscription.
Keep costs down by juggling services. Pause or cancel a service once you are done bingeing a show. Change to another service that offers another series or movies you want to see. To reign in spending, wait until a weekly series has been wholly uploaded to the service (typically 10-13 weeks), and you’ll have more time to enjoy other shows before skipping to the next service.
ReelGood or JustWatch are free apps that let you search for a series and will alert you when and where a new season becomes available.
Bundle services when available. With the new Disney+ pricing, it pays to bundle. Disney+ is $11, Hulu is $15, and the bundle is $20. You can save $6 and get ESPN+ too.
In a time of inflation, when we are looking to cut costs, it makes sense to do the legwork to watch what you want and not pay for idle services.
While it pays to do the streaming shuffle, it may be well worth buying an annual Paramount+ plan while it’s on sale.