My Streaming Services

I subscribe to a variety of streaming services. This is super annoying, though. Before I get into why this is a problem and what I’m going to be doing in the future, let’s take an inventory of what I subscribe to and how much I’m paying (not the price, but the cost billed to me).

  • Netflix - $19.47/mo
  • Amazon Prime Video - $0
  • Disney+ - $75.76/yr
  • HBO MAX - $16.23/mo
  • AppleTV - $0

So, there’s a couple of items that are apparently free. Amazon Prime Video is included with an Amazon Prime subscription, which I primarily use for purchases. Amazon Prime is $119 per year prior to taxes. At Texas sales tax rate, that would put it at about $128.82 per year cost. AppleTV has no cost because I use the various “included” offerings when I purchase Apple devices.

I subscribed to Disney+ on an annual basis. If I were to break down the cost per month, it’d be around $6.31 per month. Or to match the others to an annual cost, Netflix would be $233.64 per year and HBO MAX would be $194.76 per year.

Excluding the free services, I’m spending about $504.16 per year, or around $42.01 per month on streaming video content.

Compared to my income, this is actually not bad. But there’s plent of people that can’t afford this. And the media companies say I’m not spending enough. I don’t subscribe to other streaming services, such as Hulu, Paramount+, peacock, etc. And I’m missing out on exclusive content on thos providers.

For someone like me, cost is an annoyance, but it’s not the biggest annoyance. These days, when I see a show I might be interested in watching, often through recommendations or discussion, not through ads, I have to ask “okay, so which service can I watch this on?”

A piracy release group called EVO claims the film industry found the solution to piracy but are now in the process of unsolving that problem because of the massive fragmentation in services. Back when Hulu and Netflix were the main players, it was an easy decision to pick a service based on their way of doing things and getting what you want. But the media companies wanted a bigger slice of the pie and started making their own services. Disney was one of the first to really go down this path.

Back when the first signs of fragmentation started, I vowed to stick to as few services as I could. And I failed at that. As a result, my media service cost has more than doubled, though not all of that is because of the extra subscriptions. But there’s also that issue of figuring out where I can even watch the content.

Before all this, I’ll admit that I once pirated content. When these services became available and legitimate means of getting this content became available, I started replacing all of my pirated content with purchased content. Sadly, I wasn’t able to replace all of it, because to this day, there’s some that’s simply just not available to buy or otherwise view as a digital copy. Some of it I can’t even find physical copies. The only way for me to find it even to this day is by unauthorized means.

In an effort to protect myself, though, I decided to let this content go. All of the media that I have, and have access to, as of now, is via legitimate means.

A big part of my replacement of that content was to purchase it in a way that gave me some level of ownership (similar to a bluray) and then decrypting it so I can play it from my media server. According to the DMCA, provided I do this without intention of distribution, this is completely legal and allowed. I’ve never distributed my legit content. And I never intend to. But, this is no longer available to me. My store of choice was iTunes. Until recently, the only way for me to consume such media on my TV was through this legitimate decryption process. But Apple made changes to break this so I stopped buying this content.

The AppleTV app does something interesting. It exposes multiple subscription services in the app to try to solve the complexity problem. But it’s still frustrating to come across some interesting content and run into the wall demanding a separate subscription. It’s somewhat close to the cable TV model, but instead of making it an addon to my AppleTV service, I have to go subscribe somewhere else entirely, and for the full price that the service demands as a separate service altogether.

To be honest, I have a lot of content that I can possibly consume through Youtube, Netflix, and AppleTV. My plan is to give up Disney+ and HBO MAX. There’s not really a getting rid of Amazon Prime Video because I use other features of Prime, so it’ll always persist. But I think this will deliver to me what I want and literally cut my media streaming cost in half. I will just start accepting that if I can’t consume the media through the services I have, then I will not be a consumer of that media.

I want to reiterate that this is not just a cost factor. Yeah, I can afford all of this, and then some, because I’m lucky enough to not be stuck with low wages like so many in this country are. But there’s also the problem of complexity. I’m trying to stay on the authorized usage side of things, but I have to say that piracy provides a far superior user experience and I understand why people continue to turn to it even if they can afford these services. If media companies want my eyes, though, they should really work on getting the user experience back to a more unified experience. Compete on features, not content.