It's Time to Assess Your Streaming Media Services
Entertainment, specifically movies and TV shows, has been transformed by the availability of high-speed internet. Every once in a while, it’s important to assess the services you’re subscribing to and make necessary cuts. Do you really need Netflix, HBO NOW and Hulu? Not sure which ones to keep? In today's blog I'll provide some tips for making those tough decisions.
Subscription streaming services are convenient, but they can pile up and go unnoticed if you’re not careful. Unlike cable, most subscriptions are month-to-month, so you can theoretically turn them on and off when your favorite shows are released in entire seasons.
Every service has its perks and limitations. Premium accounts, like HBO NOW, get you access to some of the best shows, but run a bit pricey. Netflix allows you access to older TV shows and classic movies along with new releases, but it’s a limited list. Hulu is great for finishing a network series you didn’t stick with, and provides some free access. It’s also the place to go if you missed an episode in the middle of a current season.
Amazon Instant Video has some free TV and movie content for Prime subscribers, with a la carte downloads as well. You can also add premium cable channel access to your account for a fee. Or, for upper-echelon cable channels, you can go straight to the source, with Showtime, HBO and Starz offering their own all-access packages. For more basic cable access without actually having cable, take a look at Sling TV or PlayStation Vue.
A lot of traffic has flooded subscription services due to the buzz created by their increasing number of original shows. Netflix is the leader in this category, with shows like “House of Cards.” Amazon is making shows like “Transparent” and the upcoming “Goliath.” Hulu has a longer list of original series, but hasn’t yet landed a solid hit.
In my family, this is our vice. We love our subscription services and use them often with two little ones at home. What I love about Amazon Prime is that there are many services, (such as free two-day shipping) in addition to the TV and movies. We also have Netflix, and boy, do we use it! We do have cable TV, but use it mostly to watch sports.
From time to time we have discussed paring down on cable and watching sports games at a restaurant instead, but then we would still be spending money and would need to pay a babysitter. For now, we spend less in other areas to be able to splurge a little for on-screen entertainment.
Take a look at what you’re using regularly. If you can’t remember your Hulu password, put it in the suspend column. Don’t pay for Showtime or HBO for the full year if all you want to watch is “Ray Donovan” or “Game of Thrones.”
Just don’t let unused services linger. If you don’t need regular cable, you can save a lot of money by sticking to streaming.
Kat's Money Corner is posted in the Kansas City Star every week. Kat Hnatyshyn, when not blogging or caring for her little ones, is a manager with CommunityAmerica Credit Union. For more financial chatter, follow us on Twitter @CommunityAmerCU.