Hulu, Netflix and Disney Plus may be must-haves, but you can lower costs each month with one trick.
This story is part of 12 Days of Tips, helping you make the most of your tech, home and health during the holiday season.
If you’re one of the 56% of Americans affected by inflation, then you may be looking to minimize costs in the new year. One way to go about it is to take a look at your streaming services. Once you add up the cost of your streaming subscriptions, you may realize you’re spending $500 per year or more. But there’s a way to curb this expense.
Here’s the scenario: You’re subscribed to multiple streaming services, you watch one or two of them until your favorite series ends its seasonal run, then look for the next thing. But is it worth keeping all those accounts active if you’re not watching anything on them? I don’t think so.
Want to improve your cybersecurity?
We’ll teach you why protecting your identity and data is important. Plus, get recommendations for VPNs, Password Managers and Antivirus Software.
Take a look at this money-saving strategy to help you tame your streaming costs.
Read more: Best Live TV Streaming Service for Cord Cutting in 2023
Put your streaming services on a rotation
Dumping cable for good and switching to streaming is a crafty money move for cord-cutters. Because you’re able to sign up for monthly plans, it’s easy to jump into a streaming service and jump out when prices increase or content dries up. But according to Deloitte’s 2022 Media Trends report, the main reasons people cancel their streaming subscriptions are because of costs and lack of fresh content. Media companies call this behavior “churn.” We’re calling this the rotation method, and you should try it.
The incentive? You save your coins and avoid content droughts. Let’s say a popular title like The Last of Us or Willow is set to premiere on a service. Find the total episode count and wait until they’re all available at once on a platform. You cancel HBO Max, Disney Plus or other service and then, once all the episodes are available, resubscribe to catch up. Alternatively, you can start streaming a show midseason to cut costs. My monthly guide on which streaming services to cancel can help you keep up.
The downside? You won’t have immediate access to every show you want to watch and will have to wait until the full season airs. And since many streaming services release new episodes weekly, you might not be caught up at the same time as your friends. If you’re someone who prefers to watch episodes immediately when they drop, you may decide it’s worth it to have multiple subscriptions at a time. If you have patience, however, you can save some money.
The strategy can also work if you have a live TV streaming service to watch a particular sport or major event like the Super Bowl. Once the season wraps, cancel the service or move to a cheaper platform with fewer channels, like Sling TV.
Need help figuring out the best way to rotate? Follow the tips below to learn how to churn streaming platforms until your wallet feels content.
Read more: Best Streaming Device for 2023: Picks From Roku, Google, Amazon and Apple
Why pay for three months of HBO Max to watch The Last of Us when you can watch all nine episodes in March for the price of one month?
Tip No. 1: Cancel your subscription before getting charged
Set calendar reminders for your billing cycle and upcoming TV show or movie release dates. Give yourself enough warning to begin or end a subscription. Apps such as JustWatch, V Time and Hobi help you track when and where TV shows and movies appear on a streaming service. And JustWatch recently added a tracker specifically for sports. If you have a smart home device from Google or Amazon, you can set reminders for specific dates and allow a voice assistant like Alexa to notify you of an upcoming bill or streaming release date.
Amazon Echo Dot (5th Generation)
$28 at Amazon
Tip No. 2: Sign up for streaming service deals
Look for discounts on streaming services. For example, Starz is now $3 per month for three months, a drop from its regular $9-a-month rate. You can also take advantage of the Disney Bundle, which provides access to Disney Plus, Hulu and ESPN Plus in a single package for a reduced price. And eligible Hulu subscribers can add on Disney Plus for $2. Lastly, be sure to check with your mobile carrier to see which ones offer free streaming subscriptions.
Read more: Best Streaming Service Deals From Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile
Tip No. 3: Pick one or two default streaming services
Subscribe to one or two must-have services for the year, and select only one or two more options to fit your monthly budget. Rotate the bonus service(s) according to what you want to watch, ensuring you don’t miss your favorite shows while sticking to your monthly spending cap.
Tip No. 4: Use monthly billing only
Avoid annual subscriptions and pay attention to your auto-renewal payment dates. Your billing cycle can help determine when it’s the best time to quit a service, even if you’ve only signed up for a free trial. The only advantage to signing up for an annual plan is when the price is drastically cut down.
Tip No. 5: Don’t cancel your subscription, pause it
Hulu allows you to pause your subscription for up to 12 weeks, and Sling has a similar option with stipulations. Check with your streaming provider to see if you can take a temporary break without canceling.
Give it a shot, and if you don’t like it you can always resubscribe. For more excellent tips on streaming TV, check out this guide to Netflix’s hidden tricks and our tips on the best VPNs.
2023’s Best TV and Streaming Shows You Can’t Miss on Netflix, HBO, Disney Plus and More
See all photos