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Stop paying too much for TV streaming apps, find bundles instead

"Streaming is a different experience," says expert Dave DeJonge. "People are used to putting in numbers to go to those channels, and that doesn't exist anymore."

WEST MICHIGAN - Many Americans have officially cut the cable cord and moved to streaming services. But subscribing to multiple TV streaming services, and the bill will add up. 

Here are some ways to cut back on the cost of streaming services.

Take inventory of the TV streaming apps you are currently paying, and determine the last time you opened it. If you haven't opening the app in weeks or months, consider canceling the subscription.

"A prime example of this is I got Pop TV awhile ago because I needed to finish the end of 'Schitts Creek,' and you could only get it on Pop TV then," says Michigan based financial expert Lindsay Bryan-Podvin of Mind Money Balance. "You realize oh, I'm actually not watching any shows or movies on that particular streaming service, so you should go ahead and cancel it."

Recognize that the cost of internet alone is expensive. Lindsay says to be confident in calling a cable or internet provider and ask them for help. She also says that if you are a frontline worker or an educator, some providers offer a discount for people in certain professions. So you should reach out. 

"Just be transparent with them," says Lindsay. "Like 'hey, we are in the middle of a pandemic I am really struggling to justify the cost of this service what other, what other package options do you have?'"

Grand Rapids based TV streaming expert Dave DeJonge, of Streaming Installers recommends doing the research as well as asking what streaming services you can get for free if you sign up for a particular service or bundle. He also says to take advantage of free trials. He says set an alarm or reminder in your calendar of when the trial offer ends so you can decide to cancel it or keep it before you get charged for it. 


"Most services have a free trial period, so before you cancel cable, try the free trial period and see what you think," suggests DeJonge. "Streaming is a different experience, and people are used to putting in numbers to go to the channels and that doesn't exist anymore. It's more of a point and click and browse. I find that people become more thoughtful about their TV watching, because it's not just on in the background and whatever shows up live, shows up live."

Experts agree that one of best options you have with TV steaming services is your ability to pause a subscription. You don't have to cancel a service completely if you are currently not finding anything to watch on it, but you also don't have to continue to pay for it every month. 

"So maybe you do need a sports package if you're a college basketball fan during the winter," says Lindsay. "You can turn things on and off as needed."

And she says, remember that Google.com is your friend. In the search box, type 'where can I watch' to find out which shows are currently available on which streaming services. Shows tend to move to different platforms from time to time, so a show you watch on one service could now exist on another service you also use. So now you can cancel on of those services. 

Also do the research to find out if shows and movies you want are available on free streaming services, such as Pluto TV or Crackle TV. And don't forget to search local -- Grand Rapids Public Library offers a free way to stream videos using their Kanopy service. But you do need a library card to do so.

Experts say that the reason prices have and continue to increase is because carriers (like Comcast and YouTube) negotiate with providers (like Sinclair/FOX Sports Detroit and Disney/ESPN) to cover the increasing cost of original programming.

Below are the current prices for streaming services in West Michigan:

  • fuboTV - $65, up from $60 in July
  • YouTube TV - $65, up from $50 in August
  • Hulu Live - $65, up from $55 in December
  • Sling TV - $35 or $50 bundle, up from $30 or $45 In January

Current cable prices in West Michigan:

  • Comcast - In January increased the Broadcast TV fee and Regional Sports fee upwards of $6 a month. Plus increased the cost of boxes and internet-only packages.
  • Spectrum - Raised the price $3 in July

As an alternative to paying for single services, customers have the option to bundle services. Streamer Installers' Dave DeJonge recommends the following available bundles in West Michigan:

  • If you bought an Apple product in the past year, it may have come with a free period of Apple TV+, which was due to expire this month. That free period has been extended to July.
  • CBS All Access, which is getting rebranded as Paramount+, has a 50% discount for 12 months, dropping the price to $30/year. Use the code PARAMOUNTPLUS to get your discount
  • Disney + / Hulu Live / ESPN + bundle for $13/month
  • Amazon Video - included with your annual Amazon Prime
  • HMO Max is $70 for 6 months. About 20% off.
  • Hulu (without live) is $6/month

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