If you’ve watched Netflix lately you might have seen this unwelcome pop-up message: “If you don’t live with the owner of this account, you need your own account to keep watching.”
It’s an obvious sign the streaming account-sharing bonanza is coming to an end.
After years of losing millions of dollars in revenue, Netflix is finally cracking down on friends who share.
And it’s not the only one.
Spotify, Disney+ and other streaming companies are also looking to curb account sharing in a growing strategic shift across the fast-growing industry.
Which raises the question: Is it time to revisit your burgeoning list of subscriptions?
1. Audit your spending
Streaming services can creep up on people. What’s an extra $10 a month to watch the latest hit TV show whenever the mood strikes?
That’s how the thinking often goes. And fair enough.
But by the time you’ve grabbed Kayo for sport, Netflix for TV, and Disney+ for the kids, you’ve racked up a chunky bill.
Centaur Financial Services managing director Hugh Robertson said the money soon adds up, and so he recommends clients audit their streaming services by working out how often they use each one.
“Start out by working out what you’ve got, what you’re paying, and what you get for that,” he said.
“Do an inventory. Then you really need to start looking at the utility you’re getting.”
Unfortunately, companies like Netflix don’t let users check how much time they have spent using their service.
But a quick way to work out whether you’re getting good value for money is to ask yourself: ‘Why did I subscribe in the first place?’
“If you subscribed for a TV show and it’s finished, cancel,” Mr Robertson said.
“If you bought Kayo to watch footy and it’s the off season, why are you paying?”
2. Set subscription alerts
Another issue is it can be difficult to keep track of your running subscriptions and their corresponding billing dates.
You can address this by setting an alert on a digital calendar, which will allow you to set a note each time you purchase a recurring subscription.
Use whatever calendar service comes with your smartphone, or find a third-party application that lets you send push notifications.
That way, your phone will buzz when your billing date is just around the corner, allowing you to take stock, consider whether another month is worth it and, if not, cancel straight away.
3. Set a streaming budget
Setting a streaming budget is another helpful way to keep a lid on costs.
Mr Robertson said that if you used to pay $115 a month for Foxtel, then consider setting that as a new limit for all your streaming purchases.
“You have to have that philosophy of not letting yourself get ripped off,” he said.
“$10 a month is still $10 a month. That’s $120 a year.”
Part of being a conscientious consumer is also understanding what you are getting for your money.
So even if you subscribe for a specific TV show, consider doing some research to find out what other content is on that platform.
TechRadar offers a rolling list of new Netflix additions in Australia, while a quick Google search will help you find sources for other streaming services, such as Stan and Amazon Prime.
And don’t be afraid to cancel during a free trial if the service is not up to scratch.