Streaming is getting pricier. Here's how to offset the cost
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Update January 23, 2019: Hulu announced they are dropping their ad-supported monthly subscription down to $5.99/month, from $7.99. The no-ad plan will remain at its current price. Pricing changes will begin on Februray 26.
On Tuesday, Netflix announced it was raising prices by up to 18%, the streaming service's biggest increase ever. The price of all three Netflix plans is increasing by $1 to $2 a month.
The popular standard plan is rising from $11 to $13 a month. The basic plan now costs $9 (up from $8), while the premium plan costs $16 (up from $14). All price hikes will be applied to current subscribers over the next few months.
This isn’t the first time a streaming service has raised their prices in recent months. Amazon raised the cost of its Prime membership, which includes TV, movie and music streaming, from $99 to $119 a year last May. Other services — particularly Hulu, which will see a change in majority ownership, thanks to Disney's acquisition of 20th Century Fox — could follow suit. (Hulu did not immediately respond to request for comment on potential price increases.)
In a crowded streaming market, users can choose from many different types of services, each one offering different TV shows and movies, including exclusive original content. To get access to all their favorite shows, many users have multiple subscriptions — and pay hundreds of dollars a year. Here’s a look at what it costs to have some of the more popular streaming services each year.
Streaming service popularity rose due to a prominence of younger, tech-savvy adults looking to offset the rising costs of cable: Pew Research reported that in 2017, over 60% of Americans ages 18 to 29 used streaming services over cable. But, as people turn to more than one service, the total cost starts to rival the prices charged by the industry incumbents that streaming services were trying to upend.
The Federal Communications Commission reports the average rate for basic cable programming in 2016 was $23.79 a month, or around $285 per year — under half the $600 it'll cost you to subscribe to the four top streaming services in 2019.
If you feel as though your streaming services are starting to cost more than they're worth, there are some some easy ways to cut back.
The first (obvious) step involves canceling one or two subscriptions. You don’t have to cut ties with Netflix if you want “Friends” every day, but, as the chart above illustrates, trimming some fat can save you hundreds each year.
If you're married to all of your streaming subscriptions, search your bank and credit card statements for zombie charges. Namely, look for gym memberships or other subscription services you're still paying for, but stopped using awhile ago.
Lastly, go through old recurring charges, like utility bills, to check if your rates have gone up and try to negotiate them down. (We've got special tips for re-shopping for auto and home insurance policies.)
There are plenty other ways to collectively "find" an extra $24 in your budget. If you don’t know where to start, check out this list of 25 ways you can start saving right now.
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