Why not cancel a few of those streaming services you don’t use?

A generation ago, people talked about magazine subscriptions. We all had subscriptions to magazines we didn’t read. Some folks ended up with piles of newspapers that they thought some day, they’d get to.

Well, newspapers and magazines are certainly not what they once were. In part, that’s people people got wise and canceled those subscriptions they didn’t need. What they didn’t realize was that there would be a whole new set of subscriptions to worry about.

How many streaming packages do you pay for? How many do you use?

If you’re like most folks you subscribe to at least three of the following:

  • Netflix
  • Hulu
  • Prime Video
  • Starz
  • Showtime
  • CBS All Access
  • Britbox
  • Sling
  • Fubo
  • YouTube TV
  • EPIX

There are tons of other subscription video services, those are just the ones off the top of my head. And of course, your streaming palette may just expand in the next several months with the introduction of Disney+, HBO Max, and Peacock.

If you look at the total cost of all these packages it’s far, far above what you’d pay for a traditional pay TV service. Of course they tell you, the streaming services are better because you can cancel anytime.

Yeah but do you really ever cancel anytime?

The genius of all of these services is that they automatically bill your credit card so you don’t ever see a bill. It may be easy to cancel online, but when you do they’ll tell you that you’re all paid up for the month anyway, why not stay another month? And you do, you forget about canceling, and you go on with your life.

And, the bills keep piling up.

Get honest and get real.

Chances are you are paying for Netflix, Hulu, and Prime Video. Of those three, I’ll tell you Prime Video is probably worth having. Your Prime subscription is expensive, but you get a lot for your money. Just take a look at what you get, it’s pretty amazing. For about the same as you pay for other streaming services, you get so so much more.

Netflix and Hulu though… are you really using them? These are the granddaddy of all streaming services and while they both used to have great selections, both have started to show their age. When was the last time you watched anything on Netflix besides Friends or The Office? When was the last time you watched anything on Hulu that wasn’t available on demand from your pay-TV provider? I say dump both of them for 3 months and see if you even notice they’re gone.

I also tell people to stay away from CBS All Access until they get enough shows to justify it. Yes, I’ve said it before, I pay for it when Star Trek: Discovery is on, and then I cancel it. This service just doesn’t have a lot of content at all.

Take a look at each of the services you pay for and ask yourself if you’re just better off renting the occasional show for 99 cents or the occasional movie for $5.

Speaking of movies…

It seems to me that the streaming window for a lot of these movies is coming later and later. There was a time when movies were a big draw for any streaming service but I guess that time has passed. I’m still waiting for several of the hits from the last holiday season to hit streaming and frankly it’s getting a bit annoying.

Yes, paying to rent movies can be more expensive if you watch a lot of them. But on the other hand you can generally rent a movie within about 2 months of theatrical release. Us… come on dude it’s been like 9 months and you’re still not streaming on any service I subscribe to. At some point if a movie is good you should just pay for the rental.

Do you pay for live TV streaming?

If you’ve cut the cord you probably pay for some sort of live TV streaming service. Here I think these are great values because with most of them you get over 100 channels as well as over 10,000 on-demand programs including the latest network stuff. These tend to be the most expensive services but they are often worth the most.

More reasons why traditional pay-TV is still the best bet.

People ran in droves from cable and satellite in the past several years because they were tired of paying over $100 for something they didn’t watch. And yet, try to put together the same content with streaming and you’ll likely pay even more than pay TV. Plus with pay TV you get a lot more local channels and a universal guide that actually shows you everything.

Look folks, I’m not saying streaming is a dud. I think we all agree it’s here to stay. But it’s gotten mighty expensive and if you’re looking for somewhere to tighten up, those recurring “magazine subscriptions” are a good place to start.


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.