4 ways to cut your TV & streaming costs as prices rise

Streaming and cable TV prices keep going up. Here's how to save without missing your favorite shows.

Lisa Rabasca Roepe

By 

Lisa Rabasca Roepe

Lisa Rabasca Roepe

Contributing Reporter

Lisa Rabasca Roepe is a contributing reporter at Policygenius, where she covers personal finance and insurance news. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Fast Company, Wired, Business Insider, Quartz, The Atlantic's CityLab, and the Boston Globe.

Published March 31, 2022 | 3 min read

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Streaming services were once hailed as an easy way for people to save money on in-home entertainment. But the proliferation of services combined with a steady increase in subscription fees has given many customers sticker shock.

In the last 10 years, the cost of streaming services has gone up nearly 50%. In 2012, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu each cost about $7 or $8 a month. Since then, Netflix has nearly doubled its price, while Amazon jumped up by 34% and Hulu increased by 25%, according to a report by CableTV.com. Netflix raised prices again March 30. [1]

Streaming services might seem like a way to “cut the cord,” but many people still foot the bill for cable because they want to see live sports — something that streaming services often can’t deliver, says Frannie Comstock, a spokeswoman for CableTV.com. 

“The average cable subscriber also has nine streaming services,” she says. With cable TV costs also on the rise, increasing 33.84% in the last decade, many consumers are paying significant sums for in-home entertainment, Comstock says. The average satellite or cable TV package costs $529.52 a year. 

Meanwhile, consumers should expect the cost of streaming services to continue increasing to cover the cost of content creation and licensing, says Dan Rayburn, a streaming media expert. Companies like Netflix, Amazon, and Disney feel confident increasing their fees because their content is in demand, Comstock says. 

“While streaming services may have been seen as somewhat of a gimmick 10 years ago, they are increasingly becoming more and more notable when it comes to high-brow content,” Comstock says. For example, for the first time, this year’s Academy Award for Best Picture went to a movie produced by a streaming service: CODA, which was released on Apple TV+.

Don’t get left out of the conversation. Here’s how to save a few bucks while staying caught up on the latest episodes of "Bridgerton." 

Audit your streaming service use

Streaming services are paid automatically each month from your credit card, it can be easy to forget what you’re paying for. Take an inventory of what you’re actually watching, Comstock says. For example, if the only show you watch on Disney+ is "The Mandalorian," consider canceling it for now, since season three isn’t expected to premiere until December, she says.

Don’t be afraid to unsubscribe 

None of these services locks you into a contract so it’s easy to binge watch your favorite series, cancel it when you’re done with the season, and then subscribe again when the new season drops, Rayburn says.

Unlike cable, which often requires an activation fee, equipment fees, and a technician to come into your house, you can re-subscribe to streaming services in less than five minutes, Comstock says. 

Buy a bundle

Take a look at streaming services that offer package deals, Comstock says. For instance, the Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+ bundle might cover everything a family needs, she says. If you’re currently subscribing to each of these streaming services separately you will definitely want to cancel your individual subscriptions and subscribe to the bundle, she adds.

Showtime and Paramount+ can also be bought together and AMC+ offers a bundle that includes Sundance, IFC, and Shudder, a streaming service for horror and thriller films.

If you’re looking to save money on cable, find a plan that bundles cable, internet and a landline, Rayburn says. Even if you don’t use a landline, sometimes purchasing all three services can be cheaper than just two.

Look for discounts

Every streaming company, with the exception of Netflix and Prime, offers a discount at least once a year, Rayburn says. For instance, every Black Friday, Hulu offers a $2-a-month subscription. Other streaming services offer discounts on the anniversary of their launch date, he says.

When you purchase a new device or TV, you might qualify for a free year of streaming services. For instance, when Rayburn bought a new LG TV last year, he received a free year of Disney+. With certain Verizon phones, you can get a free year of the Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+ bundle. T-Mobile offers free Netflix with some of its cell phone plans and Sprint offers free Hulu and Tidal.

Image: Stephen Zeigler / Getty Images