Make streaming TV cheaper: Here’s how to change your subscriptions

Netflix, Hulu, DisneyPlus, HBO Max, crispy roll, Sling TV: Make your choice. You sign up for one or more of these services, stream until your favorite series ends its season, and then look for that to see next. But how many platforms are you signed up for? Is it worth keeping a subscription active when you’re not actively watching? I do not think so.

rotating streaming services Switching on and off by canceling a few each month can help you save money in the short or long term. I like to call it strategic churn and I have a monthly streaming guide which advises you on which platform to stay or rotate. It features a list of the hottest content releases arriving each month on Netflix, Disney Plus, HBO Max, and the other major streaming services.

Here’s a strategy breakdown and some tips on becoming a churn master.

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What exactly is churning for streaming TV?

At any given time, streaming customers will discontinue service after subscribing for a while. According to Deloitte’s 2022 Media Trends Report, the top reasons people are canceling their streaming subscriptions are pricing and the lack of fresh content. Media companies call this behavior “churn”. According to Deloitte, the average US churn rate across multiple paid platforms is 37% across the board, and younger subscribers do this more frequently over a six-month period.

Streaming services know that certain titles attract and keep subscribers as long as a series is in demand. The most obvious examples are hits like Netflix stranger things 4 and Disney Plus’ Obi Wan Kenobi. Both are major releases, but once you’ve checked them out, you’re on to the next, possibly a different service.

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If you cancel or pause (or plan to) subscriptions after these shows and movies have run their course this season, then you’re churn. And if you plan it right, you can maximize your streaming dollar and not waste it paying for a service you’re not watching.

Instead of letting your streaming costs pile up, just select the platforms with the content available that you want to watch during a specific time period, no matter if it is one live sports, A reality showscripted TV series or a new movie like Doctor Strange 2stream it and then let go of the service.

Obi-Wan Kenobi welds his blue lightsaber with defeated Stormtroopers in the background

Would you like to pay for two months of Disney Plus to see Obi-Wan, or enjoy all six episodes for the price of one month?

Lucasfilm

You must have patience, my young Churner

To the cord cutterDitching expensive cable packages in favor of streaming is a win for the wallet. Since we can sign up for monthly plans, it’s easy to jump on a streaming service to watch and hop off when costs increase or content dries up. Churning can help you keep your budget under control on a monthly or yearly basis.

The disadvantage of this rotation method is that it requires patience. As a churner, you don’t have instant access to every show you want to watch. You may have to wait a month or two. And with many streaming services releasing new episodes weekly rather than all at once, you might not be caught up at the same time as your friends. If you prefer to watch episodes as soon as they drop, you can opt to have multiple subscriptions at the same time.

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However, if you can wait, you can save some money. Let’s say a hot title like Obi-Wan Kenobi or The Real Housewives will premiere on a service. Make a note of the total number of episodes and wait until they are all available on one platform at the same time. You cancel your Disney Plus, HBO Max, or other service, then when episodes become available, resubscribe to catch up on your favorites.

The strategy can also work if you a Live TV streaming service keep up with a particular sport. When the season is over, cancel the service and save big or downsize to a cheaper live service with fewer channels like Sling TV

Pro tips to become a master churner

  • Set calendar reminders for your billing cycle and upcoming TV show or movie release dates. Give yourself enough advance notice to start or end a subscription. Apps like JustWatch, TV Time, Hobi, and Reelgood help you track when and where TV shows and movies appear on a streaming service.
  • Seek Streaming Service Offerings. For example, Starz is offering a special price of $3 per month for six months, which is a significant saving when the regular price is $9. You can also take advantage of the Disney Bundle, which offers access to Disney Plus, Hulu, and ESPN Plus in one package at a discounted price. And eligible Hulu subscribers can Add Disney Plus for $3.
  • Subscribe to one or two must-have services for the year and choose just one or two other options that fit your monthly budget. Rotate bonus services according to what you want to watch and make sure you don’t miss your favorite shows while sticking to your monthly spending cap.
  • Avoid annual subscriptions and watch your auto-renewal payments. Your billing cycle can help you determine when is the best time to stop a service, even if you’ve only signed up for a free trial.
  • Stop, don’t stop. Hulu lets you pause your subscription for up to 12 weeks, and Sling offers a similar option with conditions. Check with your streaming provider if you can take a temporary break without canceling.

Strategic churning is more work than just having your subscriptions auto-renew every month, and it won’t save you much money in the short term, but over a few months or a year the savings can really add up. Give it a try and if you don’t like it, you can always subscribe again. Churn, baby, churn.

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