You don’t need every TV subscription. Here’s which one you should drop

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We’re definitely not saying you can’t keep them all. 


Sarah Tew/CNET

Over the last year, in the pursuit of entertainment while stuck indoors, you might’ve subscribed to more streaming services. But now you may be looking to save some cash because — if we’re honest — you really don’t need to pay for every streaming service, especially when there are already many free TV streaming and free movie streaming services available, and even options to replace every paid streaming service with a free one.

But there are so many streaming services on the market today that it can be hard enough to choose one to watch, let alone what to get rid of.

You have your established heavy hitters (a la Netflix and Hulu), your newer-to-streaming powerhouses (like Disney Plus and Apple TV Plus), your traditional networks getting into the game (such as Paramount Plus, HBO Max and NBC’s Peacock), your startups and your wildcards (see the now-defunct Quibi). 

Every streaming household is different, so the service you might want to drop will vary. We’ve broken down five of the most popular streaming services to help you make the decision on which one you can part with most painlessly. 

Read moreBest live TV streaming services for cord-cutters in 2021

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Last year, I upgraded to Hulu Live TV and now I probably watch that platform the most. The Live TV package also means catching episodes of The Office or Parks and Recreation, despite the shows moving to Peacock.

Even before upgrading, I was happy with how episodes of current shows were uploaded to Hulu quickly, giving folks the opportunity to stay caught up even after cutting the cord.

Read more: Best live TV streaming services for cord-cutters in 2021

If you’ve subscribed to either the basic ($6 per month) or Premium ($12 per month) Hulu plan, you can watch it the next day. There’s also the option of Hulu with Live TV for $65 per month, which acts as more of a cable replacement and lets you watch your shows in real time.

A downside to Hulu is that every season of a given show might not be available, so if you’re looking to do some serious catching up, you might have to look elsewhere for past episodes. Hulu does have all the seasons of some shows, like Bob’s Burgers and Family Guy. 

Other programs, like the BBC’s Killing Eve, come out with an entire season at once. This is perfect for binging, but if you blow through them all, you’re stuck in a “show hole” until the next season comes out. Hulu Originals such as Shrill, High Fidelity and the Handmaid’s Tale sometimes release either an episode per week or an entire season at once. 

While Hulu’s catalog is extensive, it doesn’t include everything. It can be frustrating to search for a movie or show, only to realize that you have to buy an add-on to watch it. Hulu subscribers can tack on HBO, Cinemax, Showtime or Starz for an extra fee.

Read our Hulu review.

 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Netflix is a veteran streaming service and essentially introduced us to the modern binge-watch, as it houses iconic shows (old and new) like Supernatural, Glee, Gilmore Girls and The West Wing. It’s easy to put on an old favorite and let it play, whether you’re actively watching or not. 

Netflix has also become known for its Originals — movies, shows and multiple documentaries, many of which have received both popular and critical acclaim. Think about the hype surrounding The Queen’s Gambit, Bridgerton, Mindhunter and Stranger Things. Netflix has even shown up during Oscar season with Roma and My Octopus Teacher. 

New seasons typically come out all at once, and after you blow through them in one afternoon, you have to wait months or even years for the next one. I would keep Netflix for the binge-watching and those fascinating investigative docuseries such as The Keepers and The Pharmacist. While you’re waiting for your favorite show to come back, Netflix mixes up its content every month, releasing new titles every week. 

You can choose between basic ($9 per month), standard ($14) and premium ($18) plans.

Read our Netflix review.

 

Read more: Peacock vs. HBO Max vs. Disney Plus vs. Apple TV Plus vs. Netflix: How streaming stacks up

Sarah Tew/CNET

If you’re subscribed to multiple streaming services, they can all link to your Apple TV (or Roku or other streaming device) so you’ve got a command central of sorts. Apple leveled up its Apple TV box and app with Apple TV Plus a couple years ago. The addition of exclusive, star-studded shows such as The Morning Show and Ted Lasso is a significant draw for the service — especially if you’re already an Apple user. 

However, unlike Netflix or Hulu, Apple TV Plus doesn’t have a library of licensed shows or movies. It also doesn’t always release full seasons of its shows at once. At launch, it had nine shows, with five more on the way. However, subscribing only costs $5 per month, or $50 annually. 

Apple offers a seven-day free trial of Apple TV. Or, if you’ve recently purchased a new iPhone or other iOS device, you get three months of Apple TV Plus for free (it was previously a year). If you’re already on a free trial, find out how much time you have left here.

Read our Apple TV Plus review.

 

Read more: Best streaming device of 2021: Roku, Apple TV, Fire Stick, Nvidia Shield and more

Amazon Prime Video

If you subscribe to Amazon Prime for savings on the e-commerce site — $13 a month, half price for students) you also get access to Prime Video — Amazon’s streaming service. The service has new movies to rent or buy, and you can watch a number of movies and shows for free, so long as they have the little Prime tag on the corner of the icon. You can also subscribe to Prime Video without the e-commerce savings for $9 a month. 

If you’re a movie fan,…

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