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How to Save Money on Streaming Video Services When You’re on a Budget

While cutting cable saves money, the costs of streaming services add up quickly. Here’s how to save money on streaming video services.

Cutting cable has become a pretty common money-saving trend. After all, with all of the shows and movies available to stream, why would you need to pay $100+ a month for cable. But, how often do people sign up for a streaming service that they barely watch? Then continue to pay for month after month! I’ve put together a chart of the top streaming services to help you find the best ones for you. This includes streaming services prices. There are also tips on how to save money on streaming video services!

Comparing the Major Streaming Video Services

Pros and Cons of Netflix

Netflix is one of the largest streaming services available. It’s also the most popular of all the streaming services compared to it. And it’s no wonder why. Netflix is home to a huge catalog of content. It has thousands of TV shows and movies and hundreds of original programs as well. Many Netflix Originals, like Stranger Things, The Crown, and Bridgerton are some of the most popular TV shows out there. It’s kind of difficult (though possible) to watch everything that Netflix has to offer. Netflix prices are also pretty reasonable, with a basic plan starting at $9.99 per month. The only downfall to Netflix is the incredibly long (sometimes a year or more) wait between seasons of shows. This is due to Netflix dropping entire seasons of shows at once, better for binging, but not for holding long-term interest.

Pros and Cons of Hulu

Hulu, though smaller than Netflix, is still a major streaming service. It has a large content catalog and several notable Hulu Originals, like The Handmaid’s Tale, Dollface, and Pam & Tommy. Another big plus for Hulu with other streaming services compared to it is that they air programs from major television networks. This includes popular shows like Grey’s Anatomy, This Is Us, The Bachelor, and SNL. Plus, network programs from FreeForm and FX. Hulu also has the option to upgrade its service for access to Live TV. The cons to Hulu are that the wait time between their original series seasons is also long, though they drop new episodes weekly instead of all at once. Also, if you have a basic Hulu plan then there are commercials. I’m willing to put up with commercials for only $6.99 per month though!

Pros and Cons of Disney+

I’m a little biased when it comes to Disney+ because I’m a HUGE Disney fan. Disney+, of course, has the largest Disney catalog of any other streaming service. This includes Disney Classics that used to be locked in “the vault” and impossible to find. Plus, Disney Channel Original Movies (DCOMs if you will) that were impossible to find before Disney+. Plus, Disney owns Star Wars and Marvel, so the entire Star Wars Saga and all but 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies are on this streaming service. Disney+ also boasts an ever-growing catalog of original shows. Star Wars and Marvel shows have taken the world by storm, and there’s so much more coming. In my opinion, the only con to Disney+ is if you’re not into Disney movies, Star Wars, or Marvel. Then it’s probably not the right fit.

Another trick for how to save money on streaming video services is bundling. Disney+ and Hulu Live bundled together cost $13.99! And ESPN is included in that price!

Pros and Cons of HBO Max

HBO Max launched in May 2020, so it is relatively new to the streaming world. They have already secured many favorite series, such as Friends, The Big Bang Theory, and Gossip Girl. Plus, their catalog includes HBO hits like Game of Thrones, Sex and the City, and The Sopranos. The streaming service launched several original series that have gained a lot of popularity, like And Just Like That and Euphoria. The biggest con of HBO Max is it’s not supported on all streaming devices, such as Roku.

Pros and Cons of Amazon Prime Video

With all streaming services compared, Amazon Prime Video is the least worth the cost (in my opinion). While Prime Video does offer some excellent original series, like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, The Man in the High Castle, and Fleabag, its catalog of shows and movies is severely lacking. This streaming service does have quite a few older but very popular series, like Desperate Housewives and Chuck. It is definitely a streaming service that is better suited to trying for a month or two, watching all of the good content, and then moving on. The biggest draw for Amazon Prime Video is that it is included if you have an Amazon Prime membership. This means that many households already have access to Prime Video, without the additional monthly streaming subscription fee. We recently canceled our Amazon Prime membership, therefore we don’t have Prime Video.

Pros and Cons of Peacock

Peacock is another newcomer to the streaming services scene. It launched in April 2020 with the big draw being that the Basic version of this platform is free. The free platform offers current NBC shows, select episodes of Peacock Originals (ie. Brave New World), and a library of NBC classics. The NBC classics include The Office, Parks and Rec, Cheers, and the Law and Order library. Peacock also currently holds rights to Downton Abbey. That’s not bad for free!

For an upgrade to $4.99 per month, users gain access to twice as much content. This includes full seasons of Peacock Originals and other high-demand shows like Yellowstone. Both the free and $4.99 plans have commercials, which could be a con for some. To skip the ads, you’d need to upgrade again and pay $9.99 per month. With all streaming services compared, Peacock is an excellent option to have access to NBC classics (and more) at no extra cost.

Pros and Cons of AppleTV+

Apple TV+ has a lot of potential and is starting to gain traction in the streaming services world. The success of Apple TV+ Original, Ted Lasso (starring Jason Sudeikis), has definitely put it on the radar for more viewers. The streaming service launched more original series, including one starring Justin Timberlake (Palmer) and another directed by M. Night Shymalan (Servant). These series were highly anticipated and could mark a turning point for Apple TV+ as a streaming service.

The greatest downfall to Apple TV+ is that it does not have a back catalog of non-original content. This makes subscribers less likely to stick around once they’ve watched all of the content that they were interested in. With all streaming services compared, Apple TV+ is the only one to not have a catalog of non-original shows or movies. That seems like a pretty big pitfall. The other con is that Apple TV+ is not available for streaming on Android devices.

Now, that we’ve looked at all of the streaming services compared with each other, how do you decide which ones are best for you. Without spending just as much in streaming each year as you would on cable! I’ve developed a few tricks for how to save money on streaming video services.

how to save money on streaming video services

How to Save Money on Streaming Video Services

Rotate Streaming Services

Don’t pay all of your streaming services year-round. Look at your streaming usage and see if there are any patterns as to how often you use a certain streaming service. Depending on the time of year, I typically use some streaming services more than others. In the Fall and Spring, I watch a lot of current network shows on Hulu after they air. This means I watch all of my favorite shows as they come out. In the Summer and Winter, I watch more Netflix because network shows aren’t airing. During this time I turn off my Hulu subscription and only pay for Netflix or vice versa. This is a part of how to save money on streaming video services.

Save Money on Streaming Video Services and Make a Streaming Plan

There is SO much streaming TV content, especially as more and more networks develop their own streaming services. Make a list of shows that you’re interested in watching and which streaming services they are on. For example, maybe you really want to watch And Just Like That, but it’s only on HBO Max. Sign up for a month of HBO Max, watch the show and then, cancel the subscription.

Another example is Netflix. If you watch all that you’re interested in, but another season you’re interested in is coming out in a few months. Write down the premiere date, cancel your plan now, and then start it back up in a few months. And once you’ve finished your show, you still have the rest of the month to check out anything else new Netflix may have to offer. This may sound like a hassle, but it saves you a lot of money.

I use this tactic during the holidays. We already had Hulu and Netflix running, but their Christmas movie selections are limited. So I paid for FrndlyTV for the month of December as well. I was able to stream all of the new Hallmark Christmas movies, plus many of their older ones. Once December was over, I canceled the subscription because I didn’t need it anymore. We sign up for a month of Apple TV+, watch Ted Lasso, and then canceled it because we aren’t interested in anything else.

Save Money on Streaming Video Services and Just Keep Your Favorites

I’m not suggesting you completely cut all your streaming services or that it’s not okay to keep a subscription all year round. It’s totally fine to keep a subscription going because you use it often. For example, I never turn off Disney+. My girls watch a Disney movie or show almost every day, so there really is no point in ever turning it off. Plus, the amount of content on that app that interests me is infinite. It’s not a waste of money if you actively use it! But don’t spend an extra $100+ a year on streaming services you barely use.

When I talk about switching out streaming services like this people often tell me that it seems like a hassle or too much to keep up with. But it’s worth it. If I paid for Netflix and Hulu together all year (for just the Basic plans) I’d pay $108 per year for Netflix and $72 for Hulu. That’s $180 per year for 2 streaming services! But, if I only pay for 6 months of each, it only costs $90 per year for both streaming services. That’s nearly $100 in savings by just spending a few minutes turning off your accounts!

There are so many options out there for streaming services. My chart of streaming services compared, paired with my tips for saving money on streaming, can help you decide what services are right for you and when. There’s no point in wasting time and money on services that barely get used or that don’t have what you’re looking for.

If you need show recommendations, I have posts on my favorite shows on Netflix, my Hulu recommendations, and even the shows I like on Amazon Prime Video!

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3 Comments

  1. Wow! I don’t know if I’ve ever read such an in-depth article about streaming services and I really appreciated it! My husband and I have been struggling with this a lot lately, because while we share a Netflix and Prime plan with others, we watch a lot of basketball, and finding the right sports networks for the games we want to watch, on top of Hulu and Disney+ … it all adds up. You’ve got some seriously great suggestions here!

  2. This is such a fun way to compare them all! I’m embarrassed to admit we have Netflix, hulu, peacock & amazon prime- but we dont pay for cable so it kind of makes up for it. We also love the individual apps for various channels.

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