Saturday, March 19, 2022

Trying to cut down on subscription services

I remember a time when people used to buy media content by the piece. You bought  a book, record, video or game and brought it home to keep forever. I have no great nostalgia for those times because content was expensive and the selection was limited. The advent of the internet and digital distribution shook things up and for a brief few years a lot of people thought that they could just keep downloading everything for free. Nowadays however we are firmly in the age of the subscription service where you can have access to a large selection of titles for a relatively modest subscription fee as long as you keep paying month by month. Subscription services have become utterly dominant in music and video and there are some very compelling offerings in video games and books now too. 

These subscription services appear to offer an unbeatable value proposition. The monthly fee offers an enormous library of content and this fee is often less than you would have to pay for a single piece of content under the old buy it to own it model. Nevertheless all the subs add up and I find myself continuing to subscribe on a "just in case" basis to services even if I amn't really using them. The time has come to review what I am subscribed to and to prune those we don't really need. 

Here is a list of my current subscriptions and my thought son whether or not I should cancel them: 

1. Netflix family subscription €17.99/month. This is alot pricier than it used to be and neither I nor my wife watched it much but my kids do and I would probably face mutiny if I tried to cancel this one.

2. Spotify family subscription €17.99/month. This is our main source of music for the entire household. I consider this good value and want to keep it.

3. Amazon Prime £7.99 per month. I have never done the numbers on this to see if it is worth it but it does give a lot of benefits for a low fee: Free Amazon shipping for me and my wife on family plan. Prime video and also some free books on kindle. 

4. Express VPN $12.95/month : Bought a while back to allow us to watch a show that wasn't available in this country. I think I will cancel this one until we need it again. 

5. Youtube Premium €11.99/month: This is a luxury that I treated myself to about a year ago.  It offer Youtube music. youtube without ads and also some premium Youtube content. To be honest I can't remember what Youtube with ads is like. I am going to pause this one for a month to see if I can live without it. 

6. Xbox game pass ultimate €12.99/month: I recently upgraded to ultimate so I can avail of cloud gaming. This offers an awesome library of games and I use this a lot. 

7. Humble Choice Monthly $11.99/month: Alas poor Humble has fallen a long way from the glory days of 2015. I have stayed subscribed even though I rarely play any games from the service. They have recently removed the golden handcuffs which kept long time subscribers hooked on a cheaper monthly fee. I am going to review this on a month by month basis based on the games they offer. 

8. Sky TV €38.42: This is a standard satellite TV service that also comes with a library of content that can be watched online. I feel it is bad value but it is also kind of an essential add on for the family TV. It brings together a lot of stuff into one place including broadcast TV channels and on demand TV. It is also the only legal way to watch HBO content in Ireland due to bullshit exclusive licensing deals. 

So I am currently paying about €132 per month on subscription services. To be fair a lot of these (Netflix, Spotify, Sky and Prime) are being shared by up to four people. Regardless I am going to try and take a more critical look at what I am subscribed to going forward. Youtube Premium and Express VPN are getting the chop straight away. I will keep Humble for this month because they have Mass Effect Legendary edition which I want but after that I will review it month by month. 

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