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How To Save Over $500 This Year on Your Streaming Services

New ad-supported plans on Netflix, Prime Video, Apple TV+ and more can help you save big while still watching all your favorite movies and shows


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Photo Illustration Paul Spella; (Source: Getty Images (3))

Streaming services used to seem like the promised land – virtually unlimited hours of movies and TV shows, on demand, often without all those pesky commercials. But as virtually every big media company has launched its own streaming service over the last few years, the costs and complications have skyrocketed.

In recent months, stalwarts like Netflix and Amazon’s Prime Video – which long resisted commercial interruptions of their programming – have added new ad-supported tiers at lower costs. This means savvy streamers can save up to $546 this year by switching to these monthly plans on all the major services.​

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One small annoyance: Unlike broadcast TV, which was designed around sponsored commercials, many of these streamers annoyingly drop ad blocks willy-nilly into shows at random intervals. But it may be an annoyance worth putting up with for those lower monthly fees.

If you feel like getting pickier, you’re not alone. About one quarter of all streaming subscribers have canceled three or more services in the last two years, according to the research firm Antenna. And fully 33 percent of us count as “serial churners” – regularly signing up and then quitting services over the course of a year. That way, we can binge on recent movies and shows from one streamer, then drop it to catch up with the fare on another service without having to pay for both at the same time.

Pro tip: You can squeeze additional savings by bundling several services together – Disney offers special packages if you want Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ or some combination of the three, while Verizon customers can get Netflix and Max in a special discounted package. There can be extra savings if you sign up for an annual plan.

Ready to save on streaming? Here’s a guide to the eight biggest streamers vying for your subscription and how to save money with each.

Apple TV+

No ads yet, but if you’re buying a new iPad you can stream for free (for a while)

The deep-pocketed tech giant has had outsize success with a relatively slim programming slate, backing critical darlings like Ted Lasso, The Morning Show and Martin Scorsese’s Oscar contender Killers of the Flower Moon. But late last year, the service’s monthly price jumped from $6.99 to $9.99 – less than many other ad-free services but pricey considering how thin Apple’s content library is. For now, this is the last major streamer without an ad-supported tier. It’s worth noting that many people get complimentary subscriptions, ranging from three months to a full year, when they buy new Apple hardware. The service also offers a 7-day free trial. They’re hoping that if you want to cancel, you’ll forget to do so.

Disney+

Save $72 per year with ad-supported tier

The Magic Kingdom’s streamer – home to thousands of movies and shows, from Disney classics to Pixar animated gems to Marvel/Star Wars titles to National Geographic live-action fare – is currently charging $13.99 monthly, with an ad-supported version for $7.99. You can also bundle Disney+ and the more grownup-oriented Hulu for $9.99 per month or $19.99 for an ad-free version. And if you’re a sports fan who craves ESPN+, you can get all three for $14.99 monthly or $24.99 for a bundle without ads.

Hulu

Save $120 per year with ad-supported tier

Disney-owned Hulu has some of the buzziest shows on TV, from Only Murders in the Building to the Emmy-honored The Bear to A Murder at the End of the World. The service offers two tiers, a standard ad-free plan for $17.99 per month and an ad-supported option for $7.99; both come with an initial month free. You also have the option of bundling all three of Disney’s streaming services – including ESPN+ and the family-friendly Disney+, which boasts animated classics, Marvel fare and the Star Wars franchise. The bundle costs $24.99 monthly for ad-free streaming on all three platforms – or $14.99 for a more economical alternative, with ads.

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Max

Save $72 per year with ad-supported tier

Warner Bros. Discovery has combined all its streamers into one platform – now dubbed Max – which hosts everything from Warner Bros. movies (Harry Potter, The Batman) to HBO hits (Game of Thrones, Succession) to reality fare from Discovery (Deadliest Catch). The streamer costs as little as $9.99 per month for a plan with ads allowing streams on two devices at once, to $15.99 for an ad-free version, to $19.99 for a tier offering 4K ultra-HD resolution, immersive sound, simultaneous streaming on up to four devices and up to 100 downloads. You can score additional savings, ranging from $20 to $42 annually, if you pay at an annual rate.

Netflix

Save $102 per year with ad-supported tier

Netflix continues to crank out top original fare like The Night Agent, Bridgerton and Oscar bait like Bradley Cooper’s Maestro. But the granddaddy of streaming services aims to boost revenues by breaking its longtime resistance to ads and introducing a lower-price subscription option that includes commercial breaks in programming. The spots average about four minutes per hour, and can’t be skipped or fast-forwarded through. The $6.99 monthly price is less than half the standard subscription, which currently runs $15.49 per month – but the cheaper service offers the same 1080p resolution and limits you to watching on two devices at the same time. You can also pay for a premium ad-free tier at $22.99 per month, which promises 4K ultra-HD images and immersive sound on up to four devices per household at once. There’s no free trial period, alas.

Paramount+

Save $72 per year with ad-supported tier

The latecomer to the streaming wars opted to appeal to subscribers by eschewing an ad-free option altogether. You get tens of thousands of movies and shows from Paramount, CBS, MTV and Nickelodeon – plus NFL football and UEFA Champions League soccer – for $5.99 per month. (The biggest streaming draws may be the multiple Star Trek entries and all those buzzy historical sagas from Yellowstone creator Taylor Sheridan.) A premium mostly ad-free version, which includes some live TV and shows like Billions and Yellowjackets from the pay-TV cable station Showtime, costs $11.99. You can save roughly an extra $12 to $24 with an annual subscription.

Peacock

Save $72 per year with ad-supported tier

NBCUniversal’s streamer boasts one of the cheapest plans around – $5.99 per month for an ad-supported service that gets you access to 80,000-plus hours of TV, movies and sports from mainstays like Universal (Oppenheimer, starting Feb. 16), NBC (Saturday Night Live) and Bravo (Real Housewives). A premium ad-free version, which includes access to your local NBC station and the ability to download shows to watch offline, costs $11.99. Paying annually can save you roughly another $12 to $24.​

Prime Video

Save $36 per year with ad-based plan

Amazon’s streaming service can be hard to price out because so many people sign up for Prime subscriptions to get free two-day shipping on goods ordered through the online retailer and other perks like photo storage on the Amazon Cloud Drive and ad-free music streaming on Amazon Music. That catch-all subscription costs $14.99 per month; you can save a bit by paying a $139 annual fee. But if you only want Prime Video, without the free shipping and other goodies, you can pay $8.99 per month for original series like Reacher and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, as well as movies from the mammoth library of MGM, which Amazon acquired two years ago. Starting Jan. 29, you can fork over an additional $2.99 for ad-free streaming. If you don’t sign up for that service, you will automatically start seeing ads on all your Prime movies and shows.

Paramount+ provides a discount to AARP members and pays AARP a royalty for the use of its intellectual property.

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