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
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.
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?