With the arrival of Paramount+ last month, there are now more than 20 streaming services available Down Under and if you signed up to all of them, it would cost you about $1800 a year.
Compared to traditional pay TV, streaming can be a great way to watch all the shows you want to see for a fraction of the price.
A Foxtel subscription with the works was (and still is) about $110/month. For that sort of money, you can now subscribe to Binge and Kayo (which have most of the Foxtel content anyhow) plus Netflix, Stan, Apple TV+ and Amazon Prime.
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But with so many streaming services now available to us, and the best shows spread across them, there’s a new challenge for Aussie families: how to keep a lid on this fast-growing new line in the household budget.
In fact, reviews.org recently estimated the cost of streaming over a lifetime at $19,300 and found that just cancelling one could save you almost $10,000 over time.
So here’s the simple rule we came up with for our family of four to stop our streaming habit from spiraling out of control. I call it the ‘Pick a Winner Rule’.
Each member of our family is allowed to pick one streaming service at a time and only one. This way we’re signed up for four services at any given time and no more.
In one month, for example, my 9-year-old might pick Stan for All Blacks games, my 11-year-old might pick Binge for Modern Family, my wife and I might picked Netflix and Apple TV+ for Animal Kingdom and Ted Lasso.
With the footy season winding up, I cancelled Kayo Sports… for now.
If you think it’s too hard to limit yourself to four services, consider these two things:
1. You can still watch every show you want to watch; you just can’t watch them all at the same time.
That’s because of this little-known fact: you can turn streaming services on and off like an old-fashioned TV.
They don’t advertise this of course, and it can be hard to do it from a phone, but you can log in via a laptop at any time, go to settings and suspend or cancel your subscription.
What then happens is that you get access until the end of the month, when they stop billing you and it turns ‘off’.
But – and here’s the crucial fact – your account just goes to sleep. You can re-start it using the same login at any time.
So you just need to be a bit strategic: turn Binge on one month and watch White Lotus; turn Stan on the next month to watch the new season of Billions; and then it’s off to Amazon Prime for 9 Perfect Strangers. Why have them all running all the time when there are only 24 hours in a day to watch TV?
2. Subscription services will suck your blood like a vampire if you’re not ruthless with them
It’s just so easy to sign up for multiple services and then never cancel them and before you know it, you can find you’re paying over $100/month and hardly using most of them.
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Once a year, I like to divide my subs into ‘angels’ and ‘vampires’. The angels are the ones that save you money; the vampires are the ones that just keep sucking money out of your account each month even though you’ve forgotten you’re paying for them.
We’ve all had vampire subscriptions before. It happens. But the thing is to recognise when they “turn” and drive a stake through their heart before they get their fangs too deep into you!
Having a “pick a winner rule” or doing an annual stock take are two ways to keep them at bay. And you can always bring them back to life at a later date!
Nine Entertainment Co (the publisher of this website) owns and operates the streaming service Stan.
Joel Gibson is the author of KILL BILLS!, a Today Show regular and a Nine columnist.
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Read More:Try the ‘pick a winner’ rule to keep a lid on streaming bills