Money Slackers: Can you afford all the new streaming services?



Myles Ma

Myles Ma

Senior Reporter

Myles Ma is a senior reporter at Policygenius, where he covers personal finance and insurance and writes the Easy Money newsletter. His expertise has been featured in The Washington Post, PBS, CNBC, CBS News, USA Today, HuffPost, Salon, Inc. Magazine, MarketWatch, and elsewhere.

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Welcome to Money Slackers, a regular discussion among Policygenius staffers about money. We held the following conversation in a Slack chatroom. It's been lightly edited.

Myles Ma : Hello Slackerz. Today, we're going to talk about streaming in light of the imminent/recent releases of Apple TV+ ($4.99 a month) and Disney+ ($6.99 a month). Will any of you be diverting your streaming budget to these new and wondrous services?

Hanna Horvath : I will not! I already feel like I spend too much money on streaming services.

Zack Sigel : I got a free year of Apple TV+ when I bought the new iPhone, so I'll probably check it out anyway.

Anna Swartz : I have seen a lot of excitement for Disney+. Mostly from parents of young children.

Colin Lalley : As not a parent of young children, I’ll be getting Disney+.

Anna: Are you getting Disney+ for Avengers? It's the only way to marathon all the movies.

Myles: Colin, what is the draw for you?

Colin: Star Wars and Marvel, 100%.

Myles: What services do you refuse to ditch? Everyone rank your streaming services. GO.

Hanna: 1. Netflix 2. HBO 3. Hulu

Zack: 1. Criterion Channel.

Jeanine Skowronski : 1. Netflix 2. Amazon Prime 3. HBO Go 4. Hulu

Anna: 1. Netflix, 2. Hulu, 3. HBO Go, 4. The HGTV Roku app

Myles: Colin, where do you think Disney will fall in your future rankings?

Colin: Probably 1 or 2? I think it depends on how many shows spin up after launch. I’ll let you know in December 2020.

Anna: I have a streaming service confession: I only pay for Hulu. All the rest I "share."

Myles: What is everyone's ratio for services you use versus services you pay for? For me, it is 1/2.

Hanna: I pay for my Netflix. I use my roommate’s Hulu and my friend's ex's HBO Go.

Jeanine: I pay for all four of mine. Because I don't know how to do internet, apparently. I think it's because I had cable for so long and, comparatively, streaming seems like such a bargain.

Colin: Two out of four.

Zack: 100%. I'm bleeding cash every month.

Elissa Suh : 3/7.

Anna: I pay for one. Netflix, I use my parents' account. My wife pays for Amazon Prime and we use my in-laws' cable login for so many things.

Myles: Jeanine and Zack are the only honest people in America. Cops, please don't read this chat.

Hanna: ACTUALLY it's not illegal.

Myles: OK, so the big question these new services brings up: If content is being increasingly balkanized, how are we supposed to distribute our streaming dollar? Do we just have to subscribe to EVERYTHING?

Colin: I’d rather not, but it seems I inevitably sign up for new services, at least initially.

Learn how to avoid drowning in subscription fees.

Hanna: I think you gotta savagely prioritize which ones you're using.

Myles: What are the priorities for your streaming budget?

Hanna: I think I have a set number each month for entertainment and won't go over it.

Elissa: I have one streaming service (MUBI) that only shows you one new movie a day, and each one lasts for 30 days. So that prioritizes itself.

Myles: But I mean, what puts one streaming service over the top for you? What makes one more worth your dollars than another?

Hanna: I think Netflix has the most sheer amount of content. And it's ad-free which is huge for me. Hulu's ads ... kill me

Anna: Would you ever pay for ad-free on Hulu?

Hanna: It's not my account, so not my CHOICE.

Jeanine: I think Netflix has a pretty firm grip on market share, based on the amount of good original content they produce.

Anna: Netflix is essential for us because it has the most number of shows we're committed to.

Zack: I actually hate that Netflix has so much stuff. There's too much garbage to sort through.

Anna: Zack, some of that garbage is good.

Colin: So many Adam Sandler movies at your fingertips.

Jeanine: I originally got Hulu to watch network TV in real-time. Like "The Good Place." But that is becoming obsolete now that you can straight up buy shows on Amazon Prime and watch seasons as they air. Maybe Hulu has good original content? I haven't got hooked on anything yet.

Elissa: Jeanine, if you buy shows individually to watch, isn’t that more costly?

Jeanine: For some people, but I only like about two shows enough to not wait for them to show up on Netflix: "The Good Place" and "RuPaul's Drag Race." And I watch the shows I like over and over again so I get my money's worth.

Zack: I buy shows individually too sometimes. It's not THAT much more expensive if you think that you get four episodes a month, which means several months' worth of paying for the streaming service.

Jeanine: Plus, you'll have the shows forever.

Myles: What would convince you to add another streaming service? Like the new ones I mentioned?

Hanna: A really, really good original show that everyone is talking about (like "Game of Thrones.")

Anna: If Emily Nussbaum said the best show of the year was on Apple TV+, I would get it. Maybe.

Myles: Aside from borrowing accounts from our loved ones, what advice do you have for keeping streaming from blowing up your budget in our new stream-filled world?

Jeanine: Remember to cancel the subscriptions once you stop using them.

Colin: Consider lower-tier versions with ads if there are shows you really want to watch.

Myles: Yeah, I think it's good to know that most of these services have free trials, so you can test-drive them to see if they're worthwhile.

Zack: Use a site like to see what's on each service first before you sign up.

Anna: Get an antenna and you can watch network shows live when they air.

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Myles: Do they have the Grammys??

Anna: Yes they do. Awards shows are one of the main reasons we have an antenna honestly.

Myles: I think the new services come with bundling deals too right? It sounds like Disney+ is going to come with some kind of bundle with ESPN+ and Hulu for $13 a month.

Zack: Sounds... like cable.

Myles: Maybe something like that is what we may end up going back to in the end.

Anna: Except you can have it anywhere. It's not tied to a physical location. So that's better right?

Myles: Yes, that is better and it is also cheaper. Cable is real expensive.

Jeanine: Cable is the worst.

Colin: It’s bad when one company owns everything, but you’ll end up getting a lot with just some sort of Disney subscription eventually.

Jeanine: That's true, Colin. Disney will probably buy Netflix at some point.

Colin: And then our conversation about balkanization will be moot.

Want more Money Slackers? Check out the team’s take on Popeye’s Chicken Sandwich.

Image: Phillip Blackowl