Streaming Services: How to avoid the trap & save money


Please note: All information provided in this blog is accurate as of the publishing date and is based on the opinion of the author and is not intended to be financial advice. We recommend contacting a financial advisor for more information.

Subscription-based streaming services (SBSS) have well and truly become the preferred method of consuming video media in Australian households. The 2010s decade saw platforms such as Netflix, Stan, YouTube, Spotify, and Apple Music replace the CD/DVD collections that were commonplace in households in the prior decade. Even the once mighty Foxtel is falling exponentially every year, with subscriber numbers falling another 14 per cent last year. These SBSS offer a huge library of on-demand content with convenience and value-for-money also huge selling points.

Netflix will set you back $19.99 if you want the premium version, while Spotify sets you back $11.99. While this was no issue back in 2015, we are now in 2020 and subscription-based video streaming services (SBVSS) are plentiful in the country. Stan, Binge/Foxtel Now, Disney+, Apple TV+, Amazon Prime Video, and Kayo are all now players in the market and offer their own unique library of on-demand video content. If you were to subscribe to all these services (which a large number of people do), you will essentially be able to watch a majority of the past and current major tv shows, movies, and live sport available in Australia.

While having the ability to access all this content anytime you want is great, this is the point where the costs start adding up. If you were to subscribe to all 7 of the SBSS I previously mentioned, it would cost you a minimum of $79.96 per month, or $115.96 if you want the premium packages (these include HD picture quality and the ability to view the service on multiple devices simultaneously). Keep in mind this doesn’t include the costs of popular music streaming services such as Spotify Premium ($11.95-$17.95/month), Apple Music ($11.99-$14.99), YouTube Music ($9.99), Google Play Music ($9.99-$14.99), Amazon Music ($11.99-$17.99), or SoundCloud Go ($11.99). When you throw in a Foxtel Now subscription which is essentially an on-demand version of certain Foxtel content, you could be paying anywhere from $25-$104 extra a month.

What I am trying to get across here is that while individually these services are great value, they quickly become expensive when you start getting more. As time goes on, we will continue to see a rapid increase in SBSS in Australia, which means more money out of our pockets for the ability to view content we really just don’t have the time to watch.

So what’s the solution? The fact is we can all save huge amounts of money be simply keeping the SBSS we use regularly and cancelling those we don’t. For example, I regularly use Netflix, Spotify, and Kayo Sports as they have the content I watch on a consistent basis. A service such as Amazon Prime Video recently aired a documentary about cricket called “The Test”. As a massive cricket fan, I subscribed straight away and loved the series. However, once I was done, I decided to cancel my subscription. Were their other shows or films I may have been interested in? Sure, but keeping this subscription active would have cost an additional $6.99 (plus an almost guaranteed price increase within 12-months) on top of what I pay for the other services. This can then become a revolving door where you end up paying well over $100 for SBSS that lets be honest, you probably don’t have the time to fully utilise. We only have so much time in our day outside of work, family commitments, and other hobbies, so it’s impossible to watch everything you want.

A final point we need to look at is what the costs could be in the next 5-10 years. When Netflix first launched in Australia in 2015, they had first mover advantage and essentially an open market. They had all the best shows and films, with a low cost of $9.99 getting you as much Netflix as you could watch. However, the last 5-years have seen other organisations enter the market such as Amazon and Disney, with big brands such as HBO allowing Foxtel to host their content on their streaming service Binge. What will likely happen is Netflix will continue to lose the license to many of the shows and films they air, with their original programming likely to be what keeps them going. We will likely see more and more companies enter the streaming market, with a company such as HBO almost certain to have their own platform sooner than later. This means you will need to deeply consider what platforms you wish to use, as having them all will cost a fortune, particularly when you would struggle to get bang for your buck.

The final suggestion I have is to build a budget to help you decide what to keep. If you only have Disney+ because you like watching the star wars movies once every couple of years, either reactivate your subscription when required and cancel it again when you’re done, or consider picking up the Blu-ray or Ultra HD 4K release. It may feel like an outdated platform, but you will at least own the product.

Either way, you can save yourself hundreds if not thousands of dollars a year by simply being organised and selective with your SBSS.

Please Note: This blog has been created based on the thoughts and opinions of the author, and may not necessarily reflect those of AWT Accountants


About the Author

Daniel Johnston is a Business Graduate who specialises in Marketing-related activities. Daniel manages the day-to-day marketing operations at AWT Accountants, with a key focus on Customer Relationship Management and building the brand of AWT Accountants