Schedule Your TV Services to Save the Most Money
On-demand streaming services were initially designed as a cheaper alternative to cable and satellite TV. However, with all of the different options now, it's hard to pick just one to subscribe to, and subscribing to multiple services can get just as expensive as cable TV. We show you how you can save money on streaming services while also having access to all of your favorite shows.
Written by Tina Chang
First, it was all about Netflix. A new subscription-based service allowing you to stream TV shows and movies whenever you wanted, as many times as you wanted. Since its launch in 1997, Netflix has grown to have over 149 million paid subscribers all over the world.
About 10 years after Netflix was launched, other players finally entered the game. Amazon and Hulu launched their own services, also offering on-demand shows and movies as a monthly subscription. Yet another 10 or so years later, we’re expecting more streaming services to come into the market, with Disney also launching their own service, Disney Plus, later this year.
It’s not as easy as just choosing one video streaming service anymore. Each service has different shows and movies, including their own “original” creations. Netflix, Hulu and Prime “Originals” have quickly become some of the best movies and shows to watch, which means, if you don’t want major FOMO, you’re going to need a subscription to all of these services, which can end up costing quite a bit.
We take a look at some of the most popular TV shows out now and the costs involved to subscribe to each of the streaming services these shows are found on:
- Game of Thrones (HBO)
- Black Mirror (Netflix)
- Stranger Things (Netflix)
- The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)
- Harlots (Hulu)
- The Marvelous Mrs Maisel (Amazon Prime Video)
- Jack Ryan (Amazon Prime Video)
- The Man in High Castle (Amazon Prime Video)
- HBO: $14.99
- Netflix: $12.99
- Hulu: $11.99 (no ads)
- Amazon Prime Video: $8.99 ($12.99 for full Prime benefits)
Although the monthly pricing of each one doesn’t seem very high, if you were to subscribe to all of the services at the same time it would cost you $48.99/month total, on top of your home internet costs. It’s no longer super cheap to get a streaming service, because there isn’t one streaming service that has all of your favorite shows and movies.
The best way to save yourself some money throughout the year on TV subscription services is to plan out your year and your favorite shows. Once you know when each of your favorite shows will be released, you can subscribe and cancel your subscriptions so you’re only paying for one or two at a time.
One of the great things about these streaming services is that you can cancel and resubscribe as much as you like without paying any penalties. There are:
- No contracts
- No termination fees
- No limits to the number of times you can resubscribe
The one thing you have to remember is that you pay for a month at a time, so you can’t cancel halfway through the month and expect a refund for the other half.
A study found that 37% of HBO subscribers will likely cancel their HBO subscriptions once Game of Thrones ends
- April 2019: Game of Thrones (Season 8)
- June 2019: Black Mirror (Season 5)*, The Handmaid’s Tale (Season 3)
- July 2019: Stranger Things (Season 3), Harlots (Season 3)
- August 2019: Jack Ryan (Season 2)*
- September 2019: The Man in High Castle (Season 4)*
- December 2019: The Marvelous Mrs Maisel (Season 3)*
Instead of spending $50/month subscribing to each of these TV streaming services, you can simply subscribe to each service as new seasons of your favorite TV shows come out. We’ve done the legwork for you and tell you exactly when you should subscribe and cancel each service so you can maximize your savings.
In order to save the most money, we’ve looked at each show’s release date and scheduled out the subscription services based on our perceived importance of each show. Some shows haven't confirmed their release dates yet so we've taken a guess by looking at when previous seasons were released.
Note that HBO and Hulu's shows on this list are released weekly, while Netflix and Prime release full seasons in one go, allowing ultimate binge-a-thons.
When Should I Cancel and Subscribe?
Keep your HBO subscription from now until the series finale of Game of Thrones. This is one show that I strongly believe you shouldn’t binge watch once all episodes have aired. There is too much risk of your friends, co-workers, and basically all of the internet spoiling everything that happens. So, watch GoT live on HBO and cancel your subscription in May.
Once GoT is over and we’ve had enough time to mourn over all the people that died (because we know a lot of the main characters will die), subscribe to Netflix for a couple months so you can binge-watch the new seasons of Black Mirror and Stranger Things. You should be able to get through both shows in a couple months. Note: You can also keep your HBO subscription for another couple months if you’re a Big Little Lies fan—season 2 starts airing in June.
On average, Americans watch about 4 hours of TV every single day
Cancel your Netflix account in July and get on that Hulu train. Season 3 of The Handmaid’s Tale would already be a few episodes in so you can binge a little bit, catch up to everyone else and watch the season finale with everyone else. You’ll be able to watch season 3 of Harlots too when you need a break from the jail cell that is Gilead.
When you’re done with Handmaid’s Tale and Harlots (probably by the end of August), get yourself an Amazon Prime subscription and catch up on season 2 of Jack Ryan. Season 4 of The Man in High Castle will probably be out sometime in September too, so you’ll have plenty of watch. Keep your Amazon Prime subscription for the rest of the year so you can enjoy free 2-day shipping and be on top of buying your Christmas gifts for once.
We’re also hoping that season 3 of The Marvelous Mrs Maisel will come out in December, giving you even more reason to keep your Prime account.
How Much Could I Save?
Following this guide, you could save yourself $322 in 9 months!
- Cost of subscriptions following our plan: $118.91
- Cost of all subscriptions for 9 months: $440.91
You could save more than $300 in just 9 months by following this plan
If you’re like me and like having various streaming options throughout the year, there are some ways you can have multiple subscriptions while also saving as much money as possible.
Free Hulu from Sprint
With three of Sprint’s unlimited plans, you’ll enjoy a free Hulu subscription worth $5.99/month. This Hulu subscription isn’t the commercial-free kind, so you’ll have to put up with ads, but hey, it’s free.
Free Amazon Prime from Metro by T-Mobile
If you don’t want to pay for Amazon Prime membership, then you’re in luck. Switch to Metro’s $60 Unlimited Plan to get yourself free membership for this service as long as your line is active.
Buy a Year of Amazon Prime Upfront
If you pay for an annual Amazon Prime account, you’ll pay $119, which is just under $10/month. This is still more than a subscription to just Prime Video ($8.99), but when you think of all the other benefits to Amazon Prime, it’s totally worth it. You’ll also get free:
- 2-day delivery
- Same-day delivery on some items
- Unlimited cloud photo storage
- Access to Amazon Music
- Access to e-books and online magazines
Free Netflix from T-Mobile
If you’re on a family cell phone plan, consider switching to T-Mobile if you want a free Netflix subscription. If you have two or more lines on a T-Mobile ONE or ONE Plus account, you’ll get free standard Netflix with it.
Free Hulu with Spotify Premium
Spotify is also offering free Hulu subscriptions to its Premium subscribers. Much like the Hulu subscription you can get with your Sprint cell phone plan, this one is the basic subscription that includes ads.