Taking the sting out of streaming - how can you cut costs?

Popcorn with tv and movie accessories on a Netflix red background

Ever feel like everywhere you look is a tempting new streaming service?

If you’re paying for Netflix, Stan, Disney+ and Binge - let alone specialty services like Shudder, HayU, and Kayo - both you and your wallet could be feeling the strain.

Those five services alone, paid on a month-to-month basis for the most basic plans available, could run you up a monthly total of $42.98, as of 2022. That’s $515.76 per year. If you’re a fan of Paramount+, Apple TV+, and Amazon Prime Video, you could be adding $287.64 to that annual bill.

How can I spend less on streaming services?

With the cost of living continuing to rise, streaming is one place you can save.

Though the services themselves tend to be set in their pricing, there are always ways to reduce the impact they have on your savings account. We’ve put together a few hacks to save on your streaming.

  • Am I on the right plan? Netflix, for example, offers subscription tiers from Basic through to Premium. A Basic plan will let you stream shows and movies in standard definition to one screen at a time (and download media to one device at a time). A Standard plan extends this to two screens simultaneously with high definition, while a Premium plan unlocks ultra high definition (UHD) and four screens. Most streaming services operate on this tiered pricing model, and you could be paying for extra unused features. If you are paying for four simultaneous screens but are only ever streaming on two devices at once (i.e. a couple), consider whether a lower tier subscription could save you money.
  • Can I pay more efficiently? Some streaming services offer the option to pay in monthly instalments or to receive a better price. Prime Video, for example, can be paid at $6.99 a month or $59 as an annual fee (and comes with all of the other benefits associated with Amazon Prime), while Disney Plus gives you two months free with an annual purchase. Services like SubHub from Optus allow you to bundle the payments for your subscriptions with small discounts as you add to the collection.
  • Have I taken advantage of offers and free trials? Almost all of the major streaming services offer some kind of free trial period, from a generous 30 day free trial with Stan to Paramount Plus with its more modest seven days. Be sure to read up on the streaming services you’re looking into, as some have more interesting offers - Apple TV+ offer a three month free trial with the purchase of an apple device. Keep an eye out for limited time codes and offers that will run from time to time to make things more affordable.
  • What great free content am I missing? Before you roll your eyes, there’s more to it than free-to-air television! Along with offering the same content they air on television, there are a lot of hidden gems on the streaming apps offered by major networks. SBS On Demand has an extensive library of internationally acclaimed films and hot topic television; ABC iview is a dream for home-grown content; the major networks each have a wealth of shows you might not have ever even thought to look for. Survivor South Africa? Don’t mind if I do! Then there’s Tubi, a free streaming service where a few ads get you access to a range of out-of-this-world content. Ever found yourself in a nostalgic moment, searching “where can I watch Wife Swap?” Tubi has you covered. If you have a student or library card, you’ll also have access to the wealth of content on Kanopy.
  • What can I really afford? The fact of the matter is that you probably don’t still need the Paramount+ account you made to watch every single episode of CSI ever made (just us?). There are only so many hours in the day, and a lot of that content is probably going un-watched. Be realistic about which streaming services you’re using, and to what levels.

Streaming is a bandwidth hog, so make sure your internet is up to the task. In the mean-time, happy smart streaming!

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