I am not ashamed to admit that I watched the first season of The Handmaid’s Tale on a free Foxtel trial.
Nor am I embarrassed to acknowledge that I paid for a single month of Netflix last December just so I could watch Christmas Prince and Christmas Prince II and The One That’s Like Christmas Prince But the Heroine’s a Baker Instead of a Blogger and all the rest of them.
I also regularly sign up for free trials of other streaming services — Stan, Amazon, YouTube TV, etc. — to catch can’t-miss tent pole series and events.
No, I don’t go so far as to create new email addresses so I can keep scoring free trials; that feels a little too much like cheating the system. Luckily, there are so many new streaming services popping up, with new free offers that I can claim and immediately cancel, that I never really have to.
Because if you decide to subscribe to all of these services on a long-term basis, well… as Kevin McAllister explains in The Wall Street Journal, that’s going to cost you.
It can happen fast. Maybe you’ll pay $12 for a Netflix account and $7 for an Amazon Prime Video subscription. Another $7 click here and a $15 one there and those prices you might not think twice about in the moment can end up leaving you with a $500-$800 tab on video alone by year’s end.
I’ve spent $130 on a la carte streaming services this year, including the month of Foxtel I bought so I could rewatch the entirety of Game of Thrones before the final season (which turned out to be a huge waste of my time) and the occasional movie or television show I rent from Amazon.
I also paid $59 for my annual Amazon Prime membership, which is the one subscription I refuse to cancel because it comes with free shipping. However, you can even pay for Prime on an as-needed basis if you really want to; there’s no law that says you have to sign up for a full year of Prime just because you saw a Carnival Row advertisement in an airport.
McAllister suggests that more of us take advantage of what he calls “subscription hopping,” whether you pay for a month of a particular streaming service to watch a specific show or get even more strategic about it:
A friend of mine, who is what I’d consider a superuser, takes it a step further, waiting for a critical mass of content to hit any given streaming service before signing back up.
And now that you know how much money you can save, you can become a subscription hopper too! Just… make sure not everyone does it, okay? Otherwise, all of those streaming media sites will change their pricing models and close this delightful little loophole.