Streaming Media Services
Time flies. It seems like just yesterday streaming media services were daring us all to cut the cord. We could get basic cable packages online for well under the historic rate traditionally available. DirecTV gave us, and many of you, a free Apple TV unit for committing to a three-month plan. (Two of ours still work!) Complimentary trials were seemingly everywhere. Some still exist, but they’ve been nerfed.
Back to reality/now. YouTube TV is increasing their basic package price by $8, bringing it to $72.99 monthly, starting in April. Services are now about the same price as the old cable plans, at least when I last paid for one. When it comes to entertainment, your favorite streaming service may be your biggest weakness. But you don’t need it. Here’s why.
Behold, The High Def Antenna
We love our high definition TV antenna for picking up over the air channels. Our $20 antenna enables us to pick up 30 or so channels for free, and the picture’s great. I can’t help but notice that certain services are essentially charging for these free channels, wrapping a dozen or more of them into their basic cable channel lineup. Understandably, some of you may not live in a situation where an antenna works, but it’s worth a try. You may be surprised at the results.
Free Services Aplenty
With innovations from streaming media services have come a deluge of free options. Pluto TV, the Roku Channel, Tubi, Crackle, and even free versions of Peacock and Sling TV are available. My favorite’s probably the Roku Channel, with its relatively eclectic variety of shows and movies. Most casual viewers can find something to enjoy from the free services. The biggest inconvenience here is probably messing with a few different apps, but many are already doing that, anyway, with the pay services.
Credit Card Benefits
Cards you already carry may cover streaming media services. Do a little extra work to get hooked up here. The Amex Platinum offers a $20 monthly digital entertainment credit redeemable for Peacock, Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+, among other options. One can also pick up HBO Max with a bit more effort. Thanks to the same card’s Walmart+ credit, individuals also have access to Paramount+.
The major networks provide a variety of professional sports over the air. I’ve found regional college sports thanks to my antenna, as well. But some discerning sports fans will need to go out of pocket. YouTube TV, whose price is probably-not-coincidentally going up for this reason, has an excellent selection of sports channels. I succumb for a few months ever fall here, primarily for college football. Always consider your priorities and compare prices with other options like FuboTV and Sling.
Also, consider less conventional plays like how I picked up NBA League Pass. Periodically, unrelated consumer services offer complimentary sports subscriptions, like MLB.TV through T-Mobile. No doubt, streaming media services and legacy cable companies have consumers over a barrel when it comes to sports. The easy cop-out is paying for TV service is cheaper than going to the live event. Regardless, you do have options.
Combine and Overcome
Put a few of the above angles together, and you’ll have more than enough entertainment content at your fingertips. If you must go out of pocket beyond these options, critically think about how much time you’d spend watching the additional content. Is it worth what you’d pay for it? In reality, would you actually watch it, or just have it on in the background while you look at your phone?
The pay services heavily bank (quite literally) on consumers’ forgetfulness, laziness, or both. Many sign up for these services, promptly ignore them, and pay for subscriptions long-term. It’s gotten beyond comical now. Services now exist which help consumers to remember to cancel other pay services.
Instead, be honest with yourself. Maybe don’t sign up for a streaming service in the first place, even if there’s a free trial.
Streaming Media Services – Conclusion
The landscape of streaming media services continues to develop. Similar to our points and travel hobby, we have increasing options and related complications. But, likewise, with a bit of attention, we can save. I’ll be watching.
How are you responding to the price increases from streaming media services?
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Access to Kanopy is free via many public libraries. Great collection of classic movies, plus a surprising number of newer ones.
I was a VERY early adopter of DirecTV. Had it for 15 years. Over that time, it jacked around with the packages. History Channel was in package A but not in package B and SciFi Channel was in package B but not in package A . . . so, one had to get both packages. It was like the lobster in the slow-heating kettle and I eventually dropped it. I adopted YouTube TV the first month it came out. The lobster kettle repeated and I dropped it. At this point, we have over-the-air and LG channels (like Pluto). Amazon Prime Video comes with our Prime Membership. Netflix and Apple+ come with T-Mobile. And, Disney/Hulu are covered by a statement credit. We’re happy.
While preferences differ, that suits us.
As a former subscriber, I, too, remember DirecTV’s sleight of hand. I also remember the annual call to negotiate a new rate being quite adventurous. Managing all the different services now is even more work. That said, we’re drowning in content, even with free services. I’ll accept this as a good problem.
When at home, a movie over dinner, sure. Other than that, nope.
How can you get HBOMax “with a bit more effort”?
Follow the link in that paragraph for more info. Have fun!
I have HBOMax with my AT&T phone plan..
YouTubeTV can be shared by members of the same household. Seems to be zip-code specific, so you can pair up w some neighbors to share it. I’ve also had luck using VPN and a location extension in Chrome to fake being near the YTTV local area. They might crack down in the future, but works fine for now. Sharing is caring right!
Ride the wave, Ryan!