by Brandon Butler
Streaming and Subscription Spending in 2019 2/1/2020

Brian X. Chen at the New York Times reporting on our average streaming and subscription expenses in 2019:

In 2019, we each spent $640 on digital subscriptions like streaming video and music services, cloud storage, dating apps and online productivity tools, according to an analysis for The New York Times by Mint. […]

We increased our spending the most last year on streaming TV services, paying $170 to subscribe to the likes of Netflix, Hulu and new entrants like Disney Plus and Apple TV Plus.

These sound like shockingly high numbers, so I ran the math on myself:

I’m pretty frugal and I like to look for deals. I signed up for the 3 years of Disney+ deal, snagged Hulu at $2/month on Cyber Monday, got Apple TV+ free for a year thanks to my iPhone 11 Pro purchase, and a free Nintendo Switch Online subscription curtesy of Twitch. I’m even including my web and email “small” hosting packages. All told, for the month of January, I spent about $24.83 on online subscriptions and services, or carried forward at this rate, about $298 annually.

I spent less than half of the average from consumers last year. I know a lot of this has to do with the deals I find, but I also only subscribe to most services for a a month or two at a time, and I always turn off auto-renew. There are only so many hours in a day, and I just don’t have time to watch content from seven different sites. And I’ve found that when trying to cancel, many subscription sites will offer a free couple of weeks if you don’t cancel, hoping you’ll forget and let the subscription auto-renew. I know people who often say, I can’t afford to eat out tonight, or I can’t afford a new game now, but they have half a dozen streaming subscriptions auto-renewing that they aren’t watching. You can’t call yourself frugal with auto-renew turned on.