Just like my employment, these streaming services may be “not economically viable”
🎵 Can you pay my bills? Can you pay my streaming bills? 🎵
The novel coronavirus has been a solid kick in the yarbles for many Americans. A lot of us are now unemployed and facing some tough decisions. Those decisions range from where our next meal is going to come from, to what streaming services we have to cancel first. That scale can slide very quickly from one end to the other, but thankfully, while I am now unemployed, I’m at the latter end — for now.
Listen, I’m not approaching this with a skewed sensitivity toward the financial issues of the many. I lived close to poverty level for a while, on government assistance and working seven days a week at several jobs to support my family. Things changed and somehow, I made it out of middle-lower class and into upper-lower class. Even with losing my day job, I have enough in the bank to survive long enough to not panic, yet. Plus, Kevin is forced to pay me in money and not awkward hugs due to social distancing.
So while I spend every day now trying to put as many words on the internet as possible in between wandering around the house aimlessly, playing with LEGO, painting and searching for jobs, there are decisions that have to be made in order to save money. I stopped buying boneless-skinless chicken ($4.99/lb) and switched to just whole chicken quarters ($1.99/lb). I called my car insurance company to adjust my premium since I don’t drive much at all. Next up: canceling streaming services. They are simply not economically viable (hence the headline).
I don’t subscribe to too many streaming services, but enough that canceling some of them are an easy decision. Others are not so easy as since we’re spending so much time at home, we need those sources of entertainment. Considering this my version of talking out loud and making a decision that will affect the overall morale of the household.
Sling TV is a good replacement for cable after you’ve cut that tether. It has a lot of channels like TNT, USA, FOX, Epix, TruTV and so on. It also offers a sport package and, because of streaming rights, was the only place I could find a service that offered NFL RedZone. That required an add-on which brought the price to nearly $40 a month. There is no NFL right now and who knows if there is going to be a season? This one was an easy call.
I subscribed to Disney+ for The Mandalorian and to never re-watch Star Wars: Episode III because it’s a trash movie. Since The Mandalorian ended, I literally have only logged into Disney+ to watch Frozen 2 (alone in the dark) and Moana for the 1000th time. Since someone I know torrented all the Marvel movies, those reside on a hard drive and can be watched any time I want. Yet, Disney+ is consumed by other family members and friends I’ve shared my logins with. It’s only $7.99 a month, so maybe they can pitch in.
Verdict: make the freeloaders pay for it.
Hulu (no ads)
Hulu serves a purpose in my house. While I’ve enjoyed some of its original programming, it also allows me to pretend I have cable and watch current network sitcoms the next day, every week. It also just recently added the entire FX library, including shows like The Shield and Sons of Anarchy. There is high re-watchability here and shows like Burn Notice make for great background TV while working on art. Is that worth $13.61 a month? I’m not sure yet. Netflix offers a ton of programming that doesn’t require my full attention.
Verdict: On the chopping block.
ESPN+ is an annual $50 subscription. Looking at my spreadsheet, I subscribed in May of last year, so that decision has to be made soon before it auto-debits. I got ESPN+ to watch Italian Soccer and UFC fights. Considering the only sports being broadcast right now are HORSE competitions and re-runs of classic games and that I’ve watched every episode of 30-for-30 already, this is an easy call.
Even though Prime services are a bit murky right now and Amazon is barely accepting inventory from non-essential sellers, I feel like holding a Prime account is important to survive the coming months. Even with regular shipping, it limits the amount of time we’re spending mixing with strangers in retail environments. And at some point, Amazon will refresh its warehouse stock. Plus my subscription renews in November, so it’s moot right now.
Verdict: Re-assess in November.
Adobe Creative Cloud
There was a time where one could just acquire a cracked piece of software and make-do without regular updates and run a keygen every time the serial number was sussed out and rejected. While I have a version of Adobe Illustrator that runs like that, the $29.99/mo. Adobe Creative Cloud subscription provides much more than just Illustrator. While I mostly just use Illustrator for my art, my son uses Adobe Premiere and Audition for his art (and film school reasons). But he’s currently out of school and about to enter the National Guard, so I could easily just fall back on my cracked copy of Illustrator. It’s 10 years old but will suffice.
Verdict: Either the kid pays for it or it gets canceled.
That’s free right now so it costs nothing.
Verdict: Joe’s bandwidth.
This is a tough one. Gaming during unemployment feels a bit, wrong. To the point that I haven’t turned on the Xbox since getting laid off. But I think that’s more reflective of my general mood more than feeling like I’m wasting my time playing video games when I could be hustling for work. Considering the only games I play (FIFA 19, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare) are mostly done so online, I’m not quite ready to accept that my annual Xbox Live subscription might be up for debate. Like Amazon, it expires in November, so I have some time.
Verdict: My landlord will pry my Xbox controller from my cold, dead hands.
Finally, we get to the boss fight. Netflix is $17.32 a month, so yeah, there are people sharing my account. Some of them never use it, some use it more than me (the kids) cause I’m over on Hulu watching Burn Notice. But I could put NCIS on in the background instead. I don’t think that I am going to need Hulu and Netflix going forward and Netflix is the much better option due to its depth of original content, French action films, Asian action films, and the entire Lethal Weapon franchise. While it might lose its 20th Century Fox & Marvel content to Disney+, if I’ve nothing else, I’m going to have Netflix.
Verdict: Netflix is my herpes.
So, in all, I can save (with ESPN+ coming out to $4.99 a month) close to $100 a month if I cancel what needs to be canceled and if someone else pays for the services they use more than I do, even though I subscribed to them.
That’s a trip to the grocery store or a bunch of bullets. That’s survival right there. Worst case scenario, I’ll just watch nothing but the infinite seasons of Supernatural on Netflix.
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