Taking a new look at pay-per-view (because I have to)

The golden age of streaming is over. There was a time when Netflix’s streaming service was free with discs, but that’s long gone. What I’m talking about is the time when you could live with just Netflix and be done with it. Because they’ve been intentionally shrinking their inventory and investing in new, original programs instead, you now have to go elsewhere for movies.

Which means, if you want it all, you need HBO Now, Starz, Showtime, Amazon Prime, and Hulu, and you’re in for about $40 a month.

All of a sudden that sounds like real money! So it’s time to take a look again at pay-per-view, which is turning out to be the better value.

This has been the worst year ever for movies. OK, maybe not the worst year ever, that was probably 1997 (two words: bat nipples) but the worst year in a generation. There have been so many high-profile disappointments that I just find myself not watching movies. I watched over 80 movies last year (how I know that is another whole article) and this year I’ve watched maybe 45 so far. Why? They just mostly stink, that’s why. I don’t think I’m more picky, I think they just stink. Of the 45 movies I’ve seen, I have to tell you that I “really” only wanted to see about 7, and the rest were stuff that just showed up somewhere.

So let’s look at the economics of that. If I’m going to have to subscribe to all those standalone services, I’m going to pay a lot. On the other hand, I’m really only interested in watching maybe one movie every other month, at an average price of $7 per pay-per-view movie I’m only spending $3.50 a month and still getting all the movies I care about. That’s a pretty huge savings.

Yes, I’d be giving up shows like Westworld which I really like. So I have a couple choices there. I can pick up HBO Now for a month and bingewatch the whole season when it’s done for $15, or I can wait until a free HBO preview on DIRECTV and do the same. Or, I could just subscribe to one streaming service every month — switching from service to service — and I’d still be ahead of the game and I’d get the shows I wanted when that service hit the rotation. It’s still cheaper than all of these streaming channels.

It all sounds like a big game, but hey, I didn’t start it. Every company now wants their $10-$15 a month from me and the number of movies out there I want to see is pretty small. Why shouldn’t I save some money?

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.