“A bundle of services that’s easy to use will be a driver of how many providers viewers are willing to sign up for,” Hub Research Group Principal Analyst Jon Giegengack says
The good news for TV and movie junkies: There are new, major streaming services popping up. The bad news? It’s getting more expensive to keep up.
That much is clear, after Apple unveiled the $4.99 price tag for its upcoming streaming service, Apple TV+, last week. The service will debut on Nov. 1, less than two weeks before Disney’s much-hyped offering, the $6.99 per month Disney+, is set to launch.
The halcyon days where streaming is a much cheaper alternative to cable and satellite are coming to an end. Now, to put together a couch potato’s ultimate streaming package, the difference in monthly spending is negligible.
TheWrap breaks it down by looking at the cost for 10 prominent streaming services:
If you went with the cheapest plans for the following services — Netflix, HBO, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Apple TV+, CBS All Access, Showtime, Starz and Nicksplat — for some extra kids programming — that’s nearly $83 per month.
It gets even pricier if you don’t want to deal with advertisements. Opt for the ad-free plans from services like Hulu and CBS All Access, and upgrade to Netflix’s $15.99 monthly Premium plan instead of its Basic package, and you’re looking at $99.90 a month.
If you add in live TV packages from Hulu or YouTube TV, you’re bill will push north of $130 per month. And that’s not even factoring in the myriad of streaming options for sports nuts, including services from the NBA, MLB and NBC.
This is where you pause for a moment and remember cord-cutting has been, to this point, synonymous with cutting down on your entertainment budget. But subscribing to many of the main streaming services clearly is almost indistinguishable from paying for the top cable and satellite companies.
DirecTV starts its packages at $59.99 per month, and its Premier package, with more than 300 channels, costs $134.99 per month. Comcast’s Premier plan also costs $134.99 per month. Dish ranges from $59.99 to $89.99 per month, without factoring in the $5 per box for each TV. Spectrum, including internet, would cost nearly $140 per month for cable.
Here’s a better look at how it all stacks up:
The comparison highlights that, except for the most diehard viewers, stacking subscriptions isn’t a viable option. Instead, U.S. customers are usually forced to decide which shows they can afford to miss out on discussing at work or with their friends.
Jon Giegengack, principal analyst at Hub Research Group, said the subscription “threshold” is between 3-4 services for Americans. And for most viewers, it comes down to more than just limiting how much they’re spending on streaming.
“Another big factor is ‘subscription fatigue’,’ [or] the perceived ‘work’ required to manage and navigate content across multiple providers, each of which probably offers more content than an average viewer has time to consume,” Giegengack said. “So besides saving money, the desire to have a bundle of services that’s easy to use will be a driver of how many providers viewers are willing to sign up for.”
Disney appears to think the same thing, recently revealing it’ll bundle Disney+, ad-supported Hulu and ESPN+ for $12.99 per month.
The solution for viewers has often been to churn through their services — cancelling their subscriptions after binging one of their favorite shows, then coming back to the service when shows return.
Netflix has been relatively teflon to churn issues. At a 7% annual churn rate, “Netflix has had the lowest churn for several years” when compared to other services, Brett Sappington, senior research director at Parks Associates, said. Even then, the streaming giant recently saw a spike in app downloads at the same time “Stranger Things” returned in July.
As long as most U.S. viewers are unwilling to shell out for more than 4 subscriptions at a time, churn will continue to be an issue for the services. The struggle to keep subscribers locked-in will only get tougher, too, as new entrants like WarnerMedia, NBCUniversal, and mobile-only Quibi join the streaming market within the next year.