Press pause on streaming subscriptions

A look at password sharing restrictions, and what value sites like Netflix, Disney+, and Amazon Prime Video can offer.

You may have had an unexpected message recently when you logged into Netflix, asking you to ‘confirm this TV is in your Netflix household’. If you have, then you’re not alone. You’re part of the password sharing crackdown started by the streaming giant in recent months.

But the price of watching TV is just another rising bill to contend with, as the cost-of-living crisis continues to bite. It seems particularly unfair to penalise people when the platforms themselves encourage multiple users per account.

So, can you still save on streaming subscriptions? Let’s take a look at the password sharing restrictions, and what sites like Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video and more are offering.  

Are streaming services getting more expensive?

In short, yes. Many streaming services have raised their prices. But it’s not completely straightforward as to when and for who.

Since 1st November, Disney+ has increased by up to £36 a year for new subscribers paying directly, as the monthly subscription went from £7.99 to £10.99. Paying in one lump sum is still slightly cheaper in total, rising from £79.90 to £109.90.

Existing Disney+ customers will be hit by these price increases from their first billing date on or after 6th December 2023. If you have Disney+ through a third party, such as Sky or Virgin Media, then check with your provider about these changes.

Netflix costs between £4.99-£17.99 per month, with its cheapest subscription coming with ads and becoming more expensive to watch ad-free on multiple devices at a time. These have generally risen between £1-2 per month, since its latest price hike in October 2023.

But the crux comes if you have users ‘outside your household’. These extra member profiles cost £4.99 per user, each month. You can only buy extra profiles on Netflix’s standard and premium plans, which cost £10.99 a month and £17.99 a month respectively. If you’re on the basic or ad-supported plans, you’ll need to upgrade before you can add more members.

Why are streaming sites rising their prices?

Having the cost of watching our favourite shows increase isn’t something we’re looking forward to, especially on a backdrop of price hikes across food, energy and mortgage bills. In a sense, it’s just par for the course that streaming subscriptions would get more expensive too.

But the recent subscription cost rises come on the back of huge losses for top streaming sites. In 2022, Netflix, long thought to be the ‘king’ of streaming lost almost a million subscribers. And Disney+ lost a staggering 14 million subscribers in the last year. So, the higher prices reflect these substantial losses.  

Why is Netflix being so tough on password sharing?

Password sharing has been used by many to access Netflix, and for some it is simply the norm. In fact, it’s thought that a quarter of Netflix’s UK subscribers share their password. But you shouldn’t be using someone else’s account, and the streaming giant says it will monitor fraudulent account sharing via device IDs, account activity and IP addresses.

However, for many families, their Netflix household doesn’t necessarily mean everyone lives at home. For example, older children may live away from home, or go to university. They’re still a part of the family, and use the services paid for on the same account, but under the new rules, it would cost an extra £4.99 each month just to use the platform.

Another common pain point for this new system is for families who include their parents or grandparents on their Netflix account. It means they can also enjoy all the shows and films they like on Netflix, without having to subscribe themselves and go through the hassle of setting it up. Yet, it will now cost more to include their profiles if they’re living not under the same roof.

The new system has been put in place after new subscriber growth rates slowed down, and Netflix says cancellations in response to this new system has been low. So, it looks like it’s here to stay, at least for now!

Can you save on streaming subscriptions?

If you’re looking at ways to save on your household streaming, then there’s definitely a few steps you can take. Firstly, consider which level of service you’re subscribed to, and if a cheaper tariff would still work for you. Netflix and Disney have basic plans with ads included, so if you’re happy to watch those, then you could save a few extra pounds each month.

Secondly, check if you can access streaming sites via third parties. For example, Netflix is also available on Sky Glass, Sky Stream, and Virgin Media Stream, while O2 and Samsung customers can opt for Disney+ as extras. So, you could get yourself a decent bonus saving by paying for these streaming services indirectly. Just note that you may not be able to access the extra member facilities by opting to pay for your streaming sites indirectly in this way.

Thirdly, take advantage of any discounts you can find at the time. For instance, Amazon Prime has a six-month free trial for students, while others have offers around Black Friday, Christmas and New Year. Keep an eye out for these seasonal savings!

You can also make the most of free trials and maximise value by only having one subscription at a time. Most sites offer a one-month free trial, so if you stagger these you avoid having to pay out for multiple subscriptions each month.

In general, only having one or two active subscriptions at a time can help you save. Let’s face it, there’s already so much content out there, it’s impossible to watch it all at once. And we’ve all done the classic ‘what shall we watch tonight?’ routine, only to scroll around and choose something we’ve seen before! You don’t need the ‘choice paralysis’ (when there’s so many options that it becomes overwhelming), nor the hassle of multiple subscriptions for sites you’re not using that much.

And finally, there are many free options out there. BBC IPlayer, ITVX, 4 On Demand, UKTV Play and even YouTube are all available at no cost for their basic services.

Don’t forget, our local high street branches are here to help, with free family fun days and activities, seasonal giveaways, and of course, expert advice on your insurance. Simply find your nearest branch here, and pop in or give our team a call.

Sources: Radio Times, The Mirror, MSE, BBC