My rules to spend less on streaming film and TV

As streaming sites become more popular, it makes sense to find as many ways as possible to keep down the costs of watching movies and box sets at home.

One of the things I love about Netflix, Amazon Prime and NOW TV is they are each far cheaper than getting premium channels from Sky or Virgin. The problem is it’s so easy to sign up for these monthly streaming services, that you could well end up with all three, potentially costing you £30 a month. Less of a bargain.

So if you want to take advantage of these sites but also make a saving, here are the rules I follow to make sure I get the best value from the money I spend on streaming film and TV.

Start with free trials

I’ve had free trials with each of the three main providers – Sky’s NOW TVNetflix and Amazon Prime.  The trials are usually 30 days, though NOW TV’s standard offer is 14 days.

It’s also possible to get an extra six-month free trial of Amazon Prime Student with the NUS card trick.

Double up your trials

Amazon let you take a free trial every 12 months. I used to save up my box set viewing and binge (see below) once a year.

With NOW TV and Netflix, you’re only allowed one free trial per person, but that doesn’t mean your partner, housemates or (older) kids can’t sign up.

Becky and I both used the Netflix, NOW TV and Amazon trials, giving us two free months of each, plus a full year of Amazon Prime student.

Time when you sign up

I’m really looking forward to the new series of West World in April – but there’s been nothing massive worth watching on NOW TV so far this year. So I’m waiting until there is before signing up again.

And that’s the great thing about all these services compared to Sky or Virgin. You can just drop in and out without an annual contract.

NOW TV is the trickiest here as new series tend to dissapear after eight weeks or so, meaning you do need to watch when the shows are on air.

Buy cut-price passes

There always seem to be great deals on NOW TV passes. I bought a couple of discounted three-month TV passes in December. As well as getting a couple of NOW TV boxes included, that’s six months of Sky Atlantic, Sky One and Fox for £15 rather than £47.94 (even more if it was through a satellite dish), working out a £2.50 a month.

With Amazon Prime I’ve actually taken advantage of the half-price Amazon Student deal you get after the six-month trial. This works out as £39 a year, and you get all the other Amazon Prime perks such as free delivery.

>> Check out my summary of the latest NOW TV deals.

Share log-ins with your family

Netflix and NOW TV let you register and watch on more than one device. That means my parents can watch programmes via my NOW TV account and I’m registered as a user on my sister’s Netflix.  Just make sure the password is unique!

>> My guide to sharing subscriptions

You don’t need them all at once

There isn’t enough time in the day to watch everything I want on one service, let alone two or three.

Unless you’re sharing and splitting the cost, there’s no point having two, or even three streaming services at the same time. Be disciplined and choose the one you want to watch. You can always swap each month.

>> Which is better? My take on Amazon Prime vs Netflix vs NOW TV

Binge when there is something to watch

If I’m paying for a streaming service I’ll watch as much as I can in a month. If it’s a fantastic box set, that won’t be difficult.

My (very loose) rule of thumb to get your money’s worth is 6 hours in a month. That’s roughly 3 movies or a 6 episodes of a TV series. Otherwise you may as well rent the films or buy a box set for the same price.

Cancel when you’re busy

Once I’ve watched the shows I want to see or know I won’t be around to watch anything, I’ll cancel. Some titles do come and go, but I can usually come back and catch them when I’ve more time.

Only watch shows and films you want to watch

With so much available, it’s easy to watch something just because it’s there. Yet so much of what’s available is trash. Really. Take a look behind the main titles and there are movies you won’t even believe were made. So I’m selective(ish). If there’s nothing I NEED to see, I’ll cancel.

Watch free catch up

Channel 4’s All4 has a great back catalogue (The IT Crowd, Father Ted, Shameless) and depending on what’s on the BBC, iPlayer’s is always likely to have something worth watching. It’s well worth taking a break from the paid services every now and then to catch up on this classic TV.

>> Is the Licence Fee worth the money?

5 thoughts on “My rules to spend less on streaming film and TV

  1. You’ve said “With NOW TV and Netflix, you’re only allowed one free trial per person” but every time I cancel Netflix (which is after I’ve had it just 1 month to binge!) I get offered another free month to restart my subscription. It’s an email offer with titles like “Return for a free month”, “Rejoin free & watch….” and “Start watching again…”, so they are definitely return offers and don’t require a new subscription. It just reactivates my existing account. It’s not offered straight away, but the first few times they emailed me with the offer it was 3 to 4 months after I had cancelled, which I took up, then again cancelled after the free month. Most recently, they offered again, just 1 month after I cancelled the one before. I didn’t take them up on it as I had just binge watched everything I wanted to. Now every month since then (this was 3 months ago) they have emailed me offering another free month to restart my subscription (each offer expires after 1 month, so every month they renew the offer by sending another email). They seem so determined to give me another free month, I think I’ll take them up on it soon! Haha 🙂 In total I’ve had Netflix for 5 months in the last 2 years and I’ve only paid for 1 of those months!

    1. That’s brilliant!

  2. I’m guilty of subscribing to lots of different services (we currently have the Netflix, Amazon and Now TV trio!). I do think we spend too much on them. I’ve actually never thought to cancel one or two for a while, especially if there’s nothing on we want to see, which happens often. Thanks for the tips! You’ve made me have a rethink about what we’re doing with them.

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