Many of us spend a lot of time streaming movies, TV shows, sports and other types of entertainment these days.
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And to get a full range of content, it means paying for a lot of different services.
“The content we want is spread across many services. It’s not aggregated in one place, and it never will be,” said Dan Rayburn, a principal analyst at research and consulting firm Frost & Sullivan.
All those subscriptions can add up.
But don’t worry, you can still binge watch on a budget.
What are you actually watching?
It’s nice to have a variety of streaming options to choose from when settling into your couch for the night, but don’t pay for services you aren’t using.
Take the time to review which ones you’re paying for and how often you use them. Unlike cable bundles, streaming services tend to be easy to cancel.
“People get stuck in a mentality of being tied to a contract, but streaming services typically don’t have a contract, so when you go through the review process, you can cancel,” said Michael Timmermann, founder of savings blog Michael Saves.
Streaming services that offer live sports are usually more expensive than other services, so if you are only using it during football or baseball season, don’t pay for it year-round.
“If you are getting live streaming service because of sports, make sure it has your local teams,” said Rayburn.
Rotate, rotate, rotate
There’s a lot of great content out there, but that doesn’t mean you have to subscribe to all the services at once.
“A lot more people are planning their binge watching to save money,” said Timmermann. “They watch Netflix for two months then put it on pause, then go to HBO Max to catch up on movies, then a couple months later switch to Hulu.” HBO Max is owned by CNN’s parent company AT&T.
This takes a little planning and effort, but it can save you money and also make it easier to figure out what to watch.
Go all in
On the other hand, if there are streaming services you know you will watch consistently, check to see if there’s an annual price that saves money.
For instance, Disney+ is currently offering subscriptions at either $6.99 a month or $69.99 a year, a savings of almost $14.
Keep in mind that companies raise prices periodically.
“These services never get cheaper and continue to go up,” said Rayburn.
What are you already paying for?
Take advantage of any streaming services that come with something you are already paying for.
For instance, Amazon Prime members get access to Prime Video and Apple TV+ is free for a year when you buy some new Apple devices.
“I bought a new TV during Black Friday week and I got Disney+ free for a year,” said Rayburn.
Get money back
Check to see if any of your credit cards offer rewards on streaming services.
One option is the Blue Cash Preferred card from American Express, which has a $95 annual fee and offers 6% cash back on select US streaming subscriptions.
The Wells Fargo Propel American Express card offers three times the points for using the card on select streaming services and doesn’t have an annual fee.
Don’t forget the freebies
Keep in mind there are streaming services that won’t cost you anything. Timmermann pointed to Pluto TV and The Roku Channel as his top choices, citing their large selection of movies and shows.
“The tradeoff is they are ad supported and not the most fresh content,” he said. “But if you are just looking for something to watch or a movie occasionally, it will do.”