Updated: Dec 4, 2020
A streaming service provider (Over The Top, OTT platform) is a subscription-based service offering online streaming of films and television programs. With countless streaming services out there adding to your subscription costs, you might be looking for ways to cut down on OTT expenses. Today I will be taking you through different ways to save money while streaming content on various platforms.
Live TV - Is it worth it?
Think about it: How much live TV do you really watch? Probably not much. If a member of your family is a certified news junkie, a free service can fill in the gaps. Plenty of services including Pluto, ABC New Live, and CBSN stream live news for free. Consider a cheaper alternative like Philo, which offers 58 channels for a more palatable $20 USD monthly. Also, look into what options your cell phone carrier may be providing. T-Mobile has an upcoming streaming service TVision, which starts at just $10USD. Before I switched over to streaming I was paying $400USD every month to Verizon Fios. I was not particularly happy about it but unfortunately felt like I had no other choice. I now know that is not the case. Another option might be to purchase an antenna (remember those?) to pull down local TV stations. You will not be able to record programs, without additional hardware, but at least the airwaves are free.
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Rotating your Subscription Plans
Subscription services such as Apple TV, Netflix, and Hulu are great because you can cancel your subscription anytime and resume whenever you are ready. Many series go nearly a year between seasons, so you can take that time off and pocket the savings.
For serious savings, work out a rotation schedule. Instead of subscribing to multiple services simultaneously, you could choose just one, catch up on all your favorite shows there, then cancel/pause the subscription and move on to another service. For example Netflix in July, Hulu in August, CBS All Access in October. If you are currently paying for a live-TV streaming service, it's time to seriously consider giving it up.
Sharing a Bigger plan with others
Different streaming services have different policies when it comes to password-sharing, but those policies can be vague and difficult to enforce. If I'm paying for a Netflix Premium plan, which allows for five user-profiles and streaming on up to four devices, does it really matter if all those users live under my roof?. You can buy a more expensive Streaming plan with more user-profiles and devices allowed and split the cost with friends and family!
Credit Card Cashbacks
A lot of credit cards give you cashback for various purchases, but a handful offer streaming-specific benefits as well. For example, the American Express Blue Cash card delivers 6% cashback on nearly every major streaming service, Netflix included. If you purchased an Apple device recently, you get one year’s free access to Apple TV, as long as you redeem the offer within 90 days of purchase. Similarly, if you are a Tata Sky customer who has subscribed to Tata Sky Binge (priced at $299 a month) you get a free Amazon Fire Stick, and premium subscriptions to a number of platforms, including Voot Select and 3 months of Amazon Prime Video.
Watching Content using the Free Trial
Almost every major streaming service offers a free trial, meaning if you plan your viewing wisely, you might be able to binge a series or two without paying a dime. Just make sure to mark your calendar with a cancellation reminder; otherwise, you'll start getting billed after your trial expires.
Netflix is offering ten of their big-ticket titles such as Murder Mystery and The Two Popes, as well as the first episodes of popular shows like Stranger Things, all for free. They have also put out a number of their acclaimed documentaries for free on their YouTube channel, so there is a fair bit there to keep you entertained, educated, and occupied. Take advantage of free viewings, such as Peacock TV’s standard plan, as well as free trials. Netflix offers a 30-day trial, and most other services let you sign up free for a week. You can find longer free trials with certain services if you download them from a particular device or if you also subscribe to another related service.
With AT&T TV Now, for instance, you can get a free trial of HBO Max for 30 days, rather than the standard seven days. You can get a free year-long subscription to Apple TV+ with the purchase of an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple TV, or Mac. Sprint includes Netflix subscriptions with some of its cell phone plans as well. It might be a good idea to visit your local library to see what TV shows and films are available to rent. Often times you can earn a discount by paying for a full year of service upfront instead of selecting a monthly option. In most cases, this works out to the equivalent of getting two months free, saving you upwards of 15%.
How to get the best bang for my buck?
The decision to cut the TV cord now also means figuring out which of these many options is best. Ultimately the answer will likely depend on a number of factors, such as what types of programming you are looking for, what consumption options and devices you prefer, and even what mobile phone service you have. There has never been more content to watch at home. But figuring out what, where, and how to stream videos over the internet has never been more confusing. There are dozens of services, and because licensing is complicated, there is no one-stop-shop for everything you want to watch. Decide which plan works best for you, your family, and friends, and go for it!
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