We’re not even two weeks into 2023, and already the year is dominated by rising costs. Practically everything is going up, from electric and gas bills to that takeaway ‘deal’ at Pizza Hut that used to be £5 less than it is now (I’m not bitter at all).
Many streaming companies also introduced price hikes last year. We saw Netflix and Amazon apply hefty jumps, whilst Disney also upped its fee in the US after a new ad-supported tier was introduced – the UK and the rest of the world are expected to follow suit in the coming months so watch out.
Some of the biggest shows and films are often scattered across numerous platforms. As these are monthly bills, it is easy to sign up for multiple services. Before you know it your savings are being swallowed by subscriptions, some of which you might barely by using.
With all that in mind, I’ve compiled some of the top tips to keep costs down. Hopefully, my bank account will thank me… and who knows, maybe yours will too.
Audit subscriptions and plan ahead
One of the biggest ways you may be losing money is by staying subscribed to something that you’re not using anymore. Netflix is the biggest culprit here – I’ve probably been forking out money for the streaming giant during months that I haven’t even heard the ‘Tudum’ sound of the platform loading up once.
Keep a list on your phone of which services you’re subscribed to and their monthly costs as a reminder.
Streaming services don’t typically have penalties for leaving, and some even have incentives for coming back (like Sky’s streaming service, Now). Therefore, if you’ve not used something in a while, simply cancel it and keep your list of services on the low side. Be sure to check your monthly bank statement to see if there are any sneaky subscriptions in there that you’ve forgotten about.
Better yet, if you’re waiting for a specific show or film to release, then mark it in your calendar to sign up when it comes out. For example, there isn’t another new live-action Marvel TV series until this spring, so if that’s all you use Disney+ for, you may as well cancel until then.
Check if shows and movies are available via free streaming services
One of the biggest mistakes I used to make is not checking what shows and films are available on services that don’t cost a penny.
In the UK, there is BBC iPlayer (providing you hold a TV licence), ITVX, Channel 4, The Roku Channel and Amazon Freevee – the latter two are also available across the pond. US viewers can also stream CWTV and Peacock completely for free.
Many of these platforms include on-demand content for some of the most popular shows such as Love Island and The Traitors, as well as a library of older classics like Broadchurch and Peaky Blinders.
These platforms also sometimes get the rights to other popular shows and films. At the time of writing, ITVX has all the Back to the Future films and DC superhero hit Shazam!, whilst BBC iPlayer just got the streaming rights to HBO hit, Our Flag Means Death, and has the latest series of the epic fantasy show, His Dark Materials.
Take advantage of free trials and discounts
If you’re desperate to watch a film or binge a series on a streaming service, then you might be able to take advantage of a free trial and cancel before you are billed. Right now you can stream one of the biggest films of last year, Top Gun: Maverick on Paramount+ for absolutely nothing by utilising its free trial.
Not all platforms offer free trials, sadly. Netflix and Disney+ are two major ones that don’t but you can get them from the following:
Amazon Prime Video – 30 days free Apple TV+ – 7 days free Paramount+ – 7 days free Discovery+ – 7 days free BritBox – 7 days free HBO Max – 7 days free via Amazon Prime Channels (US only) Hulu – 30 days free (US only) Starz – 7 days free (US only)
It’s also worth keeping an eye out for discounts around Black Friday and other company specific events like Disney+ day. In the UK, we have seen major price slashes for Disney+ and Now around these periods, whilst HBO Max and Hulu had killer offers during sales.
Downgrade to a cheaper plan
I get it, sometimes cancelling is just not on the cards. However, it is worth thinking about downgrading a subscription to a cheaper one, providing you’re happy to make compromises.
The platform with the most tiers to choose from is Netflix, which now has plans from as little as $6.99/£4.99 per month. However, this does come with ads – you can read up on how these impact your viewing experience here. HBO Max, Peacock, Disney+ and Paramount+ also offer ad-supported content for less money per month.
If ads are a no go, then Netflix is one of the few platforms that offers different price tiers based on the quality of the video, the number of simultaneous streams and more. You can read up on your options in our guide to the best Netflix plan for you.
Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry
Bundle in services with another contract
It’s likely that you have other obligated contracts, such as a monthly smartphone bill, internet or cable TV. Nowadays, many big companies throw in a streaming subscription for zilch, so be sure to shop around.
For example, in the US you can bag Amazon Prime via a Metro by T-Mobile subscription, and HBO Max via AT&T.
Those in the UK can get platforms like Netflix and Paramount+ for free via Sky, which also includes all the content on Now, or bundle in a Prime/Disney+ membership via a smartphone contract with O2 – even if it’s a SIM-only deal (I’m looking into that one as I write this).
Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry
What I’m watching this week
During my teen years, I spent far too much time binging the same comedies repeatedly, and as such I missed out on a true classic. On the recommendation of my other half, I’m now two seasons deep into Community, and I’m truly addicted.
The show is about seven students at Greendale Community College who come from all walks of life. Against the odds, they form a study group, and the madness unfolds from there.
With a whole array of special guests and homages to film and television troupes, this is the perfect show to lighten your mood. What’s more, the cast of Community is reuniting for a film which is due to start filming this June. Therefore, now is the perfect time to get watching.
You can stream all six seasons of Community over on Netflix in the US and UK.