Thursday, February 22, 2024

Over $900/year on streaming services?

How much are you spending on streaming services?

A recent study indicates that streamers in the U.S. are paying $924/year for streaming services. That's $77/month.

Cord Cutters News reports that the amount is still a lot less than cable:

Bango, which provides software to companies that help them bundle together subscriptions, asked 5,000 people about their streaming habits and found the average person subscribes to 4.5 services ranging from streaming, gaming, news, home tech, and online retailers. The survey found that 10% of participants signed up for more than ten services, while 2% said they had more than 15 accounts. For streaming specifically, 76% said they pay for at least one streaming video-on-demand platform and 13% pay for sports video-on-demand services. Due to recent price hikes roaming across platforms, 57% said they had canceled a subscription, and 67% reported they couldn’t afford all the subscriptions they wanted.

All in all, Bango found people spend an average of $924 a year on subscriptions, or about $77 a month. That’s still less than the average cable TV bill, which is more than $200 a month, a total of $2,640 a year. The study also found that 25% spend $100 a month, while one in twenty pay more than $200 a month – still cheaper than cable TV. Parents tend to spend more on services, averaging $83.40 per month. One in ten parents also sign up for educational subscriptions for their kiddos.

I decided to see what I'm paying. I'm uncertain how to count some stuff, so here are the details. I'm subscribed to a few services:

  • Pub-D-Hub ($7/year, Gold & Gold Plus)
  • Frndly TV ($98/year)
  • Hulu ($8/month, $96/year)
  • Paramount Plus (included with Walmart Plus)
  • Peacock (included with Xfinity)
  • PBS ($120/year donation)
  • Prime Video (included with Amazon Prime)

This works out to $321/year or just under $27/month.

Should I count Prime Video? I mean, I'm not subscribing for the video service, and rarely use the video service. But, if I were to count it, it would be another $139/year.

Should I count Paramount Plus? It's included with Walmart Plus. But, if I paid separately for it, the cost would be $120/year, because I would get the "with Showtime package."

Should I count Peacock TV? It's included with my Xfinity Rewards. If I were to pay for it, the cost would be $120/year, because I would get the Plus package.

If I paid full price for all of those services, that would be $700/year, or just over $58/month.

Of course, if I count them, I should only count half of my PBS donations, since I could donate just $5/month and get PBS Passport. I pledged $10/month a while back, and that's what I do. PBS Passport is a bonus. But, were I to count it, I should only count $60/year.

That drops it to $640/year, or just over $53/month.

Come to think of it, I only actually pay for Hulu for a little over half of the year. I'll suspend the subscription for a few months when I am caught up on all the shows. So, it's really $8/month for 8 months, or $64/year. That brings the total to $608/year, or about $51/month.

My Streaming Life costs less than the average U.S. streamer, however it's calculated. I'm happy about that.

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

More are streaming free content

A report from Cord Cutters News says that the number of streamers that are watching free ad supported television (FAST) content is increasing. If the report is accurate, I think this is good. It means streamers are getting more sophisticated in their approach. But first, the "if the report is accurate" part needs some exploring.

The report cites Neilsen ratings in it's top ten streaming platforms for 2024.

Here Are The Top 10 Streaming Services:

  • YouTube: 8.6 percent
  • Netflix: 7.9 percent
  • Prime Video: 2.8 percent
  • Hulu: 2.7 percent
  • Disney+: 1.9 percent
  • Peacock: 1.6 percent
  • Tubi: 1.5 percent
  • Max: 1.3 percent
  • Roku Channel: 1.1 percent
  • Paramount+: 09 percent
  • Pluto TV: 0.7 percent

*Note: YouTube is for the main site not YouTube TV and Hulu is for the video-on-demand not the live TV service.

Here's the catch: the story cited and linked, as least as I write this, is from June 2023. That's nearly eight months ago. While it does show an increase over previous ratings, eight months is a long time, and the trend may not be holding.

For now, let's assume the data holds and the conclusion is accurate. If so, that is good news as I see it.

It means that more people aren't simply looking for cable in a streaming environment. When I broke free of cable, I got and enjoyed a new way to watch TV. I don't want that to go away. I want something different from cable. YouTube TV, Sling TV, Hulu+Live TV, DirecTV streaming, and other platforms are simply cable TV repackaged as streaming. In fact, Sling TV is owned by Dish, and DirecTV streaming is exactly what the name says it is: DirecTV streaming.

The other bit of good that I see is that people are discovering that it's not necessary to pay to watch good content. I dropped Netflix because there isn't content I want to pay for. Same with the other pay services. I'll occasionally rotate services around, subscribing to one a month, but I'm not even doing that anymore. I've found enough to watch for free.

My Streaming Life started as a way to pay less for watching TV. It's continued to be that for me, and it appears it's becoming more of that for others as well.

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Should I recommend not getting cable?

A friend just moved to the area from a large city. She's a family friend, actually, that I met through the family (of course). She lived in the Washington DC area and I've visited her house there with family. She's moved from that area to southeast Georgia recently. As in within the last week. She's setting up house, getting things organized, and making the adjustment from DC to SE GA.

During a conversation this past weekend, she mentioned in passing that she doesn't have Wi-Fi, which I took to mean she did not have Internet at her new house. At least, not yet.

When we visited her, we didn't watch any TV, so I don't know if she had cable or not. Or satellite or not. I don't know what she had.

Anyway, her comment that she didn't have Internet got me to thinking. Should I ask her about her plans for TV? Maybe she just doesn't watch TV. Maybe she loves satellite TV. Maybe she's a fan of cable.

Whatever her preference is, that's her preference and what works for her. I should not insert myself into that part of her life. I mean, yes, she's a friend, hugs me when I see her, and is a person I genuinely like. But we've never watched TV together and I don't know her TV likes and dislikes.

You see, just because I'm into streaming, and have been for over a dozen years, doesn't mean that what works for me will work for her. I'm experienced and knowledgeable and can answer questions about streaming options. I know devices, services, and equipment. I know ways to save money and find ways to watch the content you want to watch.

What I'm not able to do is tell you what's best for you. Only you can do that. And that goes for my friend. If she has questions, I can answer them. I can help her setting up anything she wants. But I can't suggest she not get cable.

I can help her compare the prices of cable against streaming. I can help her find the services that offer the content she wants. I can help. But I can't interfere.

My Streaming Life works for me. If she wants help with hers, I'm here for her.

Monday, February 19, 2024

Washington's Birthday (2024)

National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; owned jointly with Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Today is Washington's Birthday.

Okay, it's not the actual anniversary of the day George Washington was born. That's coming up on Thursday, the 22nd. But today is a national holiday, and that holiday is called "Washington's Birthday."

Now, before you argue about what today is, keep reading. And if you were going to argue, if you do keep reading, you may learn something.

Here is the listing of this year's holidays from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management:

You may not be able to see it clearly in that image, but at the bottom, it says:

**This holiday is designated as "Washington's Birthday" in section 6103(a) of title 5 of the United States Code, which is the law that specifies holidays for Federal employees. Though other institutions such as state and local governments and private businesses may use other names, it is our policy to always refer to holidays by the names designated in the law.

Some of you may be thinking that today is "Presidents Day." It's not. There is no such thing. And some of you may want to argue about it. "The combined Washington's Birthday and Lincoln's Birthday together and call it 'Presidents Day.'"

No they didn't. There never was a federal holiday for Lincoln. Ever. Look it up. There may have been state holidays, there may have even been local holidays that closed schools, but there never was a federal holiday for Lincoln. Ever. I'm not saying there shouldn't have been, I'm just saying there wasn't. And that's the truth.

What some -- or most -- may not realize is that the holiday wasn't to celebrate George Washington as president. Yes, he was president. He was the first under the current Constitution, but that's not why there's a holiday for him.

George Washington was one of the most important figures in the creation of the United States as an independent country. He was reviled and respected -- maybe even more respected than reviled -- by the United Kingdom when the War of Independence was fought. He was loved by many in this young country.

His actions in the founding of this country happened in the 1770s and 1780s, with the War of Independence being fought from 1775 (the 1776 signing of the Declaration of Independence was well after the start of the war; look it up) to 1784 (Cornwallis surrendered to Washington in 1781, the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783, but Congress didn't ratify it until early 1784; look it up).

Washington became president in 1789, the first one under the Constitution that was ratified in 1788. However, this was at the end of his service to the nation he helped found. He achieved his high status well before he became president. Had he never become president, his birthday would still have been celebrated, and we'd probably not have any of this silly myth about a "Presidents Day."

We would also have not had the presidency of George Washington. Maybe that would have been a good thing, maybe it would have been a bad thing. John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, and others, including ones that never served as president, may have been our first president. Perhaps they would have handled some of the major events of those eight years differently. Maybe even some of those events may not have happened at all.

What I do know is that George Washington's birthday wasn't first celebrated because of his presidency. It was because of his actions that led to the creation of this nation, and its establishment as a republic. Without him, there may not have ever been a United States. He didn't do it single-handedly, of course, but without him, there may very well have never been this country.

George Washington was a flawed man. He was an adulterer and a slave owner. He was not a perfect man by any stretch of the imagination. However, we are all human, and we all have faults, some worse than others. Washington was one of the most important men to lead this young country, well before he became president. That is why his birthday is celebrated.

Today doesn't celebrate the men who held the office of president. There is no celebration of Joe Biden. There is no celebration of Donald Trump. There is no celebration of any president at all, except for Washington, but his being president has nothing to do with the celebration. There is no holiday celebrating anyone for being president. And there probably never should be.

So, what does all this have to do with streaming? Nothing. Unless you bought a new streaming device or TV in some store's poorly-named sale. Now go watch some educational video with your streamer, and learn the facts about something. Like the actual holiday that is today: Washington's Birthday.

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Privacy is important, maybe more important than you realize

Is privacy important to you? Most people don't think so. "I don't have anything to hide" is a common phrase. And maybe you don't. But it's really not that simple.

Naomi Brockwell has some thoughts on privacy.

[YouTube]

My Streaming Life involves streaming devices that report more information than I like. While I would prefer more privacy, I am aware of what's going on, and at least know the consequences of my actions. I'm not blind to it. Maybe you aren't either.

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Time for another app cleanup

From time to time, I'll reexamine the apps on my streaming devices and find some to remove.

It doesn't really hurt to leave apps I don't use on the devices, but I prefer a cleaner experience. So, I decided to look at the apps and see what could be removed.

I have the Sling app, but that's for when I subscribe to Sling TV for ESPN during college football season. I should remove it.

ESPN was only used with the Sling TV credentials during football season. It's now been removed.

Xumo Play is another I don't use. I actually don't like it, since it plays content without my pressing "Play" and there's no way to turn it off. There is no option to disable Autoplay or Auto Preview. So, yeah, it's now removed.

Netflix was to watch Dave Chappelle last month. I canceled at the end of the month, but never removed the app. Well, I have now.

YouTube Music isn't used on my streaming device, so it's now cleaned off.

Starz is one that I'm still waiting on the subscription to run out. I'm keeping it for now, but it'll go away in a few months.

I rarely watch Kanopy, but I want to keep it. So, I'm keeping it. Maybe I'll actually use it again soon.

I haven't used Redbox in quite some time, so it's now been removed.

I really should remove Pluto TV, Roku Channel (from non-Roku devices), and Tubi. I rarely watch them.

CW is another I rarely use. I need to look around more on that app and decide if I want to keep it. I'll probably remove it, just not yet.

Disney Plus isn't used, so it goes away.

Max was still on one of my devices, even though the subscription ended a while back. It's gone now.

Same for Brit Box. Haven't subscribed in a while, so the app is now gone.

Likewise Curiosity Stream.

Stirr is still on one device. Make that "was" on one device.

Filmrise hasn't been used in ages. It's now gone.

Same for Local Now.

I should probably remove Crackle, since I don't watch it. I will, just not yet. Not sure why not.

My Streaming Life doesn't utilize these apps and services, but they are taking up space on my streaming devices. Or were. It's nice to clean things up every so often.


Friday, February 16, 2024

She lost the remote

My Special Lady did something unexpected the other day. She lost the remote to her Chromecast.

She's not one that often does stuff like that. I mean, she actually lost the remote. Not simply misplaced it and found it later. She actually turned the house inside out looking for it. It's gone. Missing. Nowhere to be found.

So, what to do?

Well, the easy answer is to replace the remote. So, how much does one cost?

That's not easy to answer, because it depends on where you buy it, and from who you buy it.

Google sells the Chromecast remotes for $20. There are compatible remotes on Amazon for the same price, but would arrive sooner.

There were even other remotes for a lower price, but not that much lower in price.

So, spend $20, right? Well, yes, but not in the way we discussed. I simply spent $20 for the new Walmart Onn Streaming Box. That gave me a comparable Google TV device, but a 4K/UHD one rather than a standard HD device.

It also meant that I didn't need to wait on it to be shipped, since Walmart had the device in stock.

I don't like not having the remote, and I don't like having a useless Chromecast, but I did what I think was best to resolve it. I got an entire device for the same price as the remote.

My Streaming Life doesn't often run into issues of missing or defective items, but every now and then, things happen. This happened, but now it's fixed.