Streaming TV was originally a way to cut the cable cord and pay for only the shows, or services you wanted.
And for a number of years, it was a great way to cut that cable or satellite bill, often in half.
Not anymore: With the arrival of Disney Plus, Apple TV Plus, Paramount, Peacock, Discovery, and more, it's getting confusing, and expensive.
So you may want to think about the monthly streaming services you pay for, compared to the ones you actually use.
GETTING OUT OF CONTROL FOR SOME
Jim Richardson is doing that. He loves watching streaming shows with his three children. But his streaming TV bill is now almost as expensive as his old cable bill, and he says the bills are getting out of control.
"YouTube TV for our live TV, it just went up to $70 a month," he said.
He also subscribes to Netflix, Disney Plus -- and through his cell phone provider -- Apple TV Plus and Paramount.
Like so many other families, the Richardsons are starting to reach the point of what is now called streaming fatigue, where you subscribe to so many different streaming channels it's hard to remember how many you have.
"You start forgetting which shows are on which service," Richardson said.
Jim Willcox of Consumer Reports says a lot of people lose track of what they're paying for, until a giant like Netflix raises prices.
"You're probably on auto renew and you don't really consider it that much," Willcox said.
Carnegie Mellon's Heinz College professor Rahul Telang says prices are going up as companies spend excessive amounts of money on new and exclusive content.
"Too much content is being made by the streaming providers, and not all of them are being consumed at the same rate," he said.
What you can do to save money
So what can you do to save money, and still binge-watch your favorite shows? Consumer Reports says:
- Look into a free service, like Pluto or Tubi
- Look for services that offer free trial periods of a week or two (and stream their hottest shows during that trial)
- Consider jumping in and out of services, which you can do with many of them
"You jump in for a month, you pay your $5 and then you jump over to another service," Willcox said.
With living expenses up sharply, this year, the last thing you want is to pay for a service you don't use.
"When consumers are looking to figure out where they can sort of trim the fat in their budgets," Willcox said, "I think what we're going to see is streaming services are one area where they're going to cut back."
He suggests you go over how many shows you watch on each service. If you haven't watched one of your streaming services in a month, it might be time to drop that one.
Jim Richardson's family is already doing that.
"I think we'll keep no more than 2 or 3 streaming services," he said.
That way, you don't waste your money.
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