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Here's How You Can Lower Your Monthly Streaming Bill

Subscribing to several streaming services can be costly, but there are ways to lower your monthly bills.

Competition among streaming services remains fierce as consumers are seeking the best deal while looking for more original shows and movies or a TV series to binge.

The streaming companies are all fighting for more people to subscribe to their service, get hooked on a show and stay for a few months. The majority of the streaming companies make it fairly easy to cancel after a 30-day period as long as you cancel on the day before it is set to renew.

Some consumers have signed up for multiple streaming services to receive different forms of entertainment from tv shows to movies to sports, but are not actively watching them. Canceling some of them can be one strategy to cut down on costs, Bruce McClary, vice president of marketing for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, a Washington-based nonprofit organization, told TheStreet.

“Reducing or eliminating discretionary expenses such as memberships and subscriptions can make a difference when looking for some room in a tight budget,” he said. “However, the choice doesn’t have to be all or nothing. For example, some popular streaming services offer options to downgrade or temporarily pause service. Either way, the results can have an immediate impact.”

Some movies and TV series are shown on several streaming services, so check before you pay to rent one since you might be a subscriber already. Most streaming services still only give you 48 hours to watch a show or movie, so if you like to rewatch movies, remember the time allotted is short.

The most popular streaming services are fairly inexpensive and all let you cancel at any time. Netflix starts at $9.99 a month, while Amazon Prime is $8.99 a month if you are not a member, but gives you a month to try for free. Hulu costs $6.99 with ads a month while Apple+ costs $4.99.

Jeff Wohlrab, a retired military member and part-time author in Georgia, said he spends $250 a month to stream Disney+ w/Hulu, Netflix, HBO Max, Starz, Paramount+, Amazon Prime, along with a few other downloads with DirecTV while paying $60 for internet.

Some streaming services let you add on other streaming services. Hulu offers a package that costs $69.99 a month for Hulu, live tv, Disney+ and ESPN+. Disney+ is good for fans of cartoons, children’s movies and animation and costs $7.99.

The most value for a consumer is subscribing to Peacock since it is only $4.99 a month and offers a variety of shows and tiered pricing levels, said Mary Landesman.

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"Peacock is where it’s at value-wise for streaming," she said. "For us cheapies on the ad-supported tier, the way they weave in the ads makes me actually want to watch them. I am definitely good with the ads. There are much less than on live or cable tv and don't seem as intrusive. I started on the free but upgraded to the $5 a month plan for additional seasons."

YouTube is a good option since it offers nearly everything from local news to movies to sports. It is currently offering a free trial of two weeks, plus $10 off the monthly subscription price for the first three months before they start billing $64.99 a month. 

Mila Carditis, a Michigan resident, said she stopped paying for YouTube TV when they raised prices from $35 to $65 a month, while Joy Benson, who lives in Dallas, remains a fan since she has been a subscriber for 2.5 years.

“The commercial section where it’s music irritates me, but I overlook it or try to,” Benson said. “It’s still cheaper than supporting cable and channels whereby I don’t adhere to their platform or management..”

Franklin Gold, co-CEO and CSO of Orion Trading Systems, said he chose YouTube TV via Roku and got rid of his cable, saving him over $100 a month.

“We have 4 TVs and the box rentals were brutal,” he said. “We've added Disney+, HBO Max and Apple TV and still spend way less.”

Watching Movies, British Shows and Other Genres

Lovers of British shows or mysteries can either stream from BritBox, which was created by BBC and ITV, for $6.99 a month with a seven-day trial or opt for Acorn which is also $6.99 a month with a seven-day trial.

Diehard movie fans will often opt for the more specific options such as the Criterion Channel at $10.99 a month that show classics and other movies or Mhz Choice that shows international mysteries, comedies and dramas for $7.99 a month. Starz only shows movies and tv shows and is $8.99 a month after a seven-day trial. HBO Max has both its own content, plus other shows and movies and starts at $9.99, but does not offer a free trial period.

Watching Sports

Whether you watch sports occasionally for the Olympics, March Madness or the Masters golf tournament or are a diehard fan, there are several options available.

YouTubeTV is a good option if you also watch sports since it includes ESPN, the NFL Network, Golf Channel, ACC Network, MLB.com, NBA TV and FS1 and starts at $64.99 after a two-week trial period.

John Stark, a retired reporter in Bellingham, Washington, said he subscribed to Fubo for sports, but was not pleased with the service.

“It was good for most college and NFL football, but to my dismay, it didn't offer Final Four or the championship game in basketball, so I dumped it,” he said. “They don't do TBS, apparently. The channel display was clumsy and annoying, too.”

Sports fans can still buy an inexpensive cheap digital antenna to watch your local network affiliate such as CBS to watch the final rounds of the Masters. The other options to watch sports live is to stream fuboTV which also has over 100 live channels and starts at $64.99 a month with a seven-day trial.

DIRECTV Stream is the online version of the cable offering and it includes ESPN. A subscription starts at $69.99 a month and there is a five-day free trial.

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Hulu has a live tv option so you can watch sports channels such as ESPN and starts at $69.99 a month. Sling which hosts cable networks such as A&E and BBC also shows live sports such as ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, TNT, TBS, TruTV and FOX Sports 1 and is $45 a month. You can even pay with cryptocurrency via BitPay, a blockchain payment provider.

Paramount+ is the streaming service run by CBS which shows sports live. It starts at only $4.99 a month and has a seven-day free trial.

ESPN+ is the cable network’s streaming service and starts at only $6.99 a month.

Restaurants and bars are an option again also.

Rachel Elson, a wealth manager Perigon Wealth Management, said she would head to a neighborhood bar to watch sports.

Free Ways to Watch Shows, Movies

There are even free streaming websites if you’re an occasional TV watcher. Most streaming services have a trial period of a week to let you check out their options.

One viewer, Mike, said he is a fan of watching Pluto TV, but sticks mostly to YouTube TV.

“As far as ‘junk TV’ to me that is anything purely just for entertainment. Most of my YouTube viewing, by contrast, is usually educational by nature (videos talking about crypto protocols, TED talks, etc.),” he said. “They cover a remarkable range of stuff (even has news channels) but a lot of their channels are "here's a 24 hour channel that only shows The Munsters" and stuff like that.

Pluto TV is free and has hundreds of channels, including TV shows, movies, news, sports and documentaries with around 50 million global viewers, the company said.

IMDB TV is free, especially if you like watching older tv series such as the Rockford Files, but there are commercials. Two other options that also have commercials are Tubi, a division of FOX Entertainment, that has over 35,000 movies and TV shows, plus local and live news channels and Crackle, which shows both U.S. and British shows that are older.

Hoopla is free as long as you have a library membership. The company offers ebooks, movies, music, audiobooks,, comics and TV shows and you can use it via Roku, Chromecast, Firestick, Android TV and Apple TV.

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Finance and investing channels like CNBC also have streaming options if you cut the cord. You can pay $29.99 a month to watch CNBC Pro since it has livestream tv from U.S, Europe and Asia with other extras like on-demand interviews with CEOs. Their shows such as Squawk on the Street or Fast Money are also available for free via the podcast version which is simply a replay of the show.

Even the movie theater chains have sought to sell consumers streaming movies. AMC Theatres on Demand offers movies that you can buy or rent. Viewers can accumulate points that can be used to buy concessions at the movie theaters. There is no paid subscription fee and you only pay for what you watch. Some of their prices are comparable to other streaming options. You can rent “Death on the Nile” for $3.99 or buy it for $20.99.