The Must-Have Streaming Services

As prices continue to climb, it feels as though we’ve entered a new chapter of video streaming. One in which many of us will be more selective in what we subscribe to and at what frequency.

Here’s a breakdown of some recent price hikes:

Service Monthly Increase Effective Date
Disney+ $3 (38%) 12/8/22
Apple TV+ $2 (40%) 10/24/22
Hulu Ad-Free $2 (15%) 10/10/22
YouTube Premium Family $5 (28%) 11/21/22

Of course, my little table doesn’t tell the whole story. For example, this isn’t the first price hike for Disney+ nor Hulu Ad-Free. Additionally, while it’s “only” a 15% price hike, I already found Hulu Ad-Free to be somewhat costly for its content. On the flip side, while Disney’s sees a more substantial increase the video library continues to expand in meaningful ways.

So I’ve started thinking about what my must-have streaming services are. The ones needed 12 months a year, versus the ones we periodically light up for binging or maybe avoid altogether. Now my must-have services almost assuredly differ from your must-have services and my household remains an ad-free zone, so we can’t partake in newly unveiled, lower-priced Netflix and Disney tiers that offset subscription fees with commercial interruption.

Given my interests and those of my six year old, we need Disney+ content available 365. Beyond the obvious Disney films, and Marvel series, the entire family has enjoyed discovering National Geographic content. Heck, after we binged Secrets of the Tampa Zoo, we followed up with an in-person visit. As a D23 fan club member and former Disney World Annual Pass holder, I was pitched that initial $170 dealio for three years of service way back in 2019. And, now that our time is about up, I’m able to renew at the current $80 annual rate ahead of the early December jump to $110.

My subscription to YouTube Red predates my daughter’s interest, but is necessary now more than ever to insulate us both from incessant ads as we enjoy it independently and together for both entertainment and education. Although I remain grandfathered at $10/mo versus YouTube Premium, I still wish YouTube Music were more compelling and accessible to maximize the subscription. And, while it no longer applies, the paid YouTube downloads perk was invaluable (like this classic) in calming a former fussy toddler on the plane.

As to the other services, we’re largely content to rotate them in and out as needed. Like we’re big into Hulu right now. But by the time we’re caught up, we’ll be ready to roll in HBO Max for the conclusion of White Lotus Season 2. Also, some decisions I get to defer. For example, my wife and mom won’t let me cancel Amazon Prime which makes Prime Video and The Boys effectively free. But we’re also treated to “real” free content as I keep receiving stackable Apple TV+ promos that have us covered through next summer (although For All Mankind has veered right off the rails). Netflix is curious as our bill is largely subsidized by T-Mobile, but even $4.50 out of pocket each month seems excessive given how much we’re (not) currently watching.

What are your must have streaming services?

13 thoughts on “The Must-Have Streaming Services”

  1. I sidestepped the live television stuff to keep post length under control. But I know those are indispensable for some! I get my locals live through HDHomeRun and relayed via Channels DVR, but frequently wonder if Paramount+ (with live CBS) might be enough. We also fairly frequently think about augmenting with a Sling TV package or Philo. If it came to our 8″ Echo Show, we’d almost assuredly be in. But we wouldn’t watch enough ‘cable’ to justify YouTube TV, Hulu Live, etc.

  2. The cost for all of them keep going up, no longer the deal, wish YouTube would give a discount to customers who also have YouTube TV (plus the 4k add-on). On top of those I am currently paying for Discovery+, The Disney bundle (no adds Hulu), pay for yearly Paramount +, Netflix 4k (altho I often think the upgrade isn’t worth it), Peacock but with Xfinity I receive the base so I upgraded for no commercials. HBO max is included with my ATT bill. I also subscribe to NBA LP and have Sunday Ticket, both of which I will use the streaming options often.

    If I were to rank use it’d be YTTV, YT, Hulu, Disney, Peacock then the others fill in depending on the shows we’re watching then. *with Dancing w/the Stars on Disney and Days of our Lives on Peacock, my Mom has learned how to use both apps on a regular basis, so their usage has gone up. I typed of directions how to use them, got tired of the call with “how do you switch to watch_____” I am upgrading their Fire TV to the newest version which I am hoping will make it easier for them to figure out the different services.

  3. OTA + Tivo Bolt for local channels for now, until I get around to setting up a HDHomeRun + Channels DVR for the long-haul… We’ll see how long the Bolt lasts. Subs for now, in order: Prime Video; Paramount+LIVE (but I use free codes, ssshhh); Disney+; Hulu (basic); Netflix (HD); Peacock (for now, we’ll see if the soaps are worth it the the family)

    HQ plasma 1080p displays for now, so upgrading to higher definition will be coming at some point and then the question will be “are Apple devices worth it as the new successor to Tivos…” I think the answer to that question is likely: yes.
    That might change a lot of things, when that happens.

  4. HBOMax – Discovery+ (soon to be combined?), Paramount+ – Showtime, Peacock

    My kid lives on Netflix with Pokemon and similar shows. I like Paramount for easy no commercial viewing of Survivor / Amazing Race. Showtime is bundled together, and I watch some shows there.

  5. Paramount+ is sometimes. Like when ST Strange New Worlds is on.

    Peacock is sometimes.

    HBOMax is sometimes.

    Hulu we’ve been keeping full time. Ditto Disney+. With the pricing changes now doing the yearly bundle.

    Netflix is full time. For now. As the price rises we may reconsider.

    Prime we get for “free”. Watch ads on YT. Apple TV have free till next spring. Not likely to pay the new rate for very long. And limited content means you don’t have to.

  6. When the heck is HBO Max going to merge with Discovery+? I was so sick of paying for 2 I dropped Discovery+ this month. HBO Max comes with my wife’s AT&T Unlimited wireless plan, which is a legacy grandfathered plan that gives us money off our DirecTV bill (and HBO there as well), but the AT&T bill is very expensive like over $150 a month (some of that is phone subsidy though). I saw xfinity mobile is $45 for one line and you get a discount on home internet as well. We’ll have that option soon since they are overbuilding into our area.

    Having young kids Disney+ is the best value. Not only for them but I love all the Star Wars stuff.

    We still have Netflix with the 4k plan (seriously in 2022 they still want to nickel and dime you for 4k). Amazon Prime just happens to be there because we utilize the 2 day free shipping enough to pay for it. Last but not least I also use Plex and have a library of content shared out from my computer.

  7. I’m glad I jumped in on the Costco Apple TV+ deal last night. Instead of this morning. Last night I got two, 1 year, Apple TV+ subscriptions for $44.99 each. And they stacked on top of my free six months I got from my PS5. Now, my Apple TV+ subscription expires in February 2025.

    This morning, at Costco, the price for a year of Apple TV+ increased to $62.99.

  8. Speaking of consolidation, I expect Paramount+ to roll all of Showtime in at some point (and likely raise the rate) vs linking it via a higher tier. And if/when HBO Max folds in Discovery stuff, I might revisit as a must-have. Hulu’s FX content is great and I imagine one day I could move from full-time Disney+ and periodic ad-free Hulu, to the ad-free bundle ($20/mo). Although tbd what happens with Hulu if/when Disney buys out Comcast.

  9. I hope I’m covered for HBO Max after they change the service with Discovery. I recently got HBO Max, no ads, for around $36 out of pocket for a year. So $3 a month for the no ads HBO Max plan was a great deal.

  10. My TiVo hd crapped the bed. So I got an HD home run. 2tivo streams, as de-TiVo’d as I can get, channels dvr, we use Philo, Netflix and have Amazon prime. Just added Disney+.

    Even with cable we still had Netflix and prime ( some wives buy Prada…my wife buys bulk ). So with adding Philo and Disney is still cheaper than cable. Hate hearing that basic digital is ONLY blah blah blah. When mandatory broadcast fees and sports fee etc adds an extra 50%, nobody cares if the guv or cable is getting the money. Bottom line is what matters

  11. Finally booted our cable service, which was about to lose several package deals and go north of $200/month. With 500 GB internet, Sling (both packages, mainly for my sports viewing), Tablo for local broadcast (w/ guide subscription), Hulu (w/ ads), Paramount+ (w/ ads), Peacock (w/ ads, at $1.99 for a year), and Frndly (for my wife’s Hallmark movies), I’m still paying less than half of my cable bill, and I can stop/start these and other services as I like. I don’t factor in Amazon Prime b/c we were using it anyway, but if I did, the monthly cost would still be around half of cable. There was the initial cost of the Tablo box, but I call that an infrastructure expense. We got used to the pecadillos of streaming TV quickly, we’re happy, and we’re saving money and watching what we like. (Now we’re looking into a British streaming service – Acorn or Britbox, anyone?)

  12. I am not so against ads on Hulu, due to my limited viewing there, but will not stand for it on D+ or Netflix. I, too, had the D23 pricing for D+, which comes to an end next month, but during a call to Verizon about an issue, the helpful (very rare) agent informed me that I was not taking advantage of all of my service offerings, with the Disney bundle being one. I had forgotten that it was an option when I changed plans a year ago, S at the time I had D+ for over a year more already paid (and it boiled down to around $4.20 per month), but with it being only a month away now, it was the right time to consolidate. That also offset my Hulu (ads) cost, while adding the never-used ESPN+.

    I also got the ad-supported Paramount+ Essentials plan through my Walmart+ membership — this is one I likely would not have gotten otherwise, but for the rare look at Picard or SNW, it’s ok to deal with on the short term.

    I have Starz, and AppleTV is included with AppleOne, so I get that similarly to how I get Prime Video — a service I already buy includes it.

    My wife and kids use the services more than me, but I watch quite a bit of Star Wars and Marvel content on D+. To me, that is the only “essential” plan that I have. I do watch other services, but not consistently.

    I can’t drop Netflix because it has stuff that my family watches, but I probably watch shows or films on there about as much as I watch Starz, and I’d say Starz is probably on the chopping block since that is rarely watched (just need to finish Oulander’s last season first).

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