Technology: Auditing my video streaming costs

I read a lot of internet posts about the rising cost of streaming but there are ways to mitigate these costs and maybe I’m just not paying close enough attention to my credit card statement. The one thing I see people say is just sign up for one service at a time, watch the thing you want to watch then cancel before it renews in a month. This churning is quite popular on the secondary services like Paramount, Peacock, Max and Hulu. I don’t do this not because I’m made of money but because IP owners move titles around between services based on who’s paying them the most per x amount of plays. Almost every service has a “leaving soon” category. This really wasn’t a thing except in theaters because Blockbuster and my own shelf of DVDs have movies forever but we no longer live in that world. Honestly, I have titles that were purchased on iTunes’ Video Store since 2005 (Office Season 1 comes to mind) that I can still watch on AppleTV many years later. I’m thrilled that most of these have all be unconverted to 1080P or 4K instead of their original 320×240 resolution (which is what the iPod Video was speced for 18 years ago). Also, services like Movies Anywhere bridge the gap allowing you to have a library that transcends any single service. This is a good idea and I’m glad the service has lasted so long. 

I digress though, we’re getting off topic. 

Streaming costs. I subscribe to the following services all in their ad-free flavors except two which I have no choice but to view ads:

  • Netflix – $22.99
  • AppleTV+ – $9.99
  • Max – $16.66 (billed at $200 annually)
  • Peacock – $11.99
  • Paramount+ – $5.99
  • NFL – $6.99
  • Legacy Disney Bundle (ESPN, Hulu, Disney+) – $18.99
  • Sling Orange + Blue – $55
  • YouTube Premium – $14
  • Prime – $11.58 (billed at $139 annually)

I’ve listed today’s published costs of what these services cost if you were to sign up for each one individually. 

If I were paying for these streaming services every single month, the total cost is $175.49 or $2100 a year. This is more than any cable package I’ve ever had. 

In truth, I’m spending $104 a month. Still not great and that price will go down soon. Once football is over, I’ll be cancelling Sling at $55 a month. I only signed up to watch MLB + NFL + NCAA sports for Fall. Additionally, HBO Max annual subscribers were grandfathered into an extra year at $149 after the transition to Max but after 6 months, they drop those subscribers from 4K to 1080P retaining the ad-free features. I’ve disabled auto-renew because I refuse to watch 1080P content and I don’t see Max as worth $199 a year ($17 a month). NFL will also go away. 

Here are the services I’m not paying for:

  • Netflix ($22.99 – Included with Verizon for the rest of 2023)
  • Peacock ($11.99 – Using my Amex Platinum streaming credit to get this for free)
  • Paramount+ ($5.99 – Included with Walmart+ as a perk from Amex)
  • Disney Bundle ($18.99 – Verizon includes this for free and I pay $5 a month on Hulu to make that service ad-free which Amex reimburses)
  • Prime ($11.58 – I should include this but here’s the thing, I don’t use Prime’s video service at all. I never open the app or watch anything there. I find their interface frustrating because you see a film worth watching and it’s not included and instead you have to rent or buy it. I use Amazon Prime for free shipping, a service I debate cancelling every single year despite being Prime since 2005 when it was $49)

Come January, we’ll be dropping Netflix, Sling, NFL and Max won’t renew in May. 

Left over will be:

  • AppleTV+
  • Peacock
  • Paramount+
  • Legacy Disney Bundle
  • YouTube Premium
  • Prime

This is completely sufficient for non-sports content and out of pocket monthly will be more like $33.66. 

AppleTV+ is another hard one because I subscribe to AppleOne and I do so for other benefits like Apple Music and Arcade. TV+ feels like a bonus. And then there’s YouTube Premium. I subscribe because I don’t want to see ads and have been subscribed for 5 years or more but back then it was $9.99. My YouTube usage has decreased significantly. These days I visit directly and I watch the 10 videos per week that channels I subscribe to upload. I’ve also deeply unsubscribed to channels who have ads as a part of their video. When there is a message about a product placement or a break in the video to sponsor a mobile video game, I immediately stop watching the video and unsubscribe from the channel and never go back. This means that essentially my YouTube Premium $14.99 saves me roughly 40 minutes per month of advertisements that run during YouTube videos of the small handful of channels I still subscribe. But I don’t search/browse/explore YouTube anymore.  I find the content irrelevant and too much click-bait and low-quality inflammatory for my liking. I have been thinking more and more about cancelling premium and using a router-level DNS ad-blocker on my Synology in Docker to block ads. 

Ah, one thing I forgot to mention, I only watch streaming content on my 4K TV with AppleTV. None of these streaming providers’ apps are installed on my devices other than AppleTV. Watching video on a 4-11” screen seems ridiculous. I’m an adult who owns a television which is why YouTube content being low quality or any streaming services degrading their resolution to 1080P means they’re on my list for cancellation. 

I want to look at this list every year but as for the free stuff I’m not having to pay for, I do enjoy Peacock, Paramount, Hulu, Disney, ESPN but the I may hop into these only occasionally. As for just renting movies I want to see than spending hours hunting for something on of of these streaming services? That’s an option that I’ve considered but my wife and I consume content differently. She’s a daily auto-play / binge person who just likes having something playing on TV while she’s working or around the house. I don’t consume content that way. The TV is off until I’m ready to watch a movie. 

I will say that you should look at your premium credit cards and look for streaming credits and also check your wireless telephone provider’s perks because you might have something free you didn’t know about. 



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