Ready for the season 10 (and a half) premiere of The Walking Dead this summer? Make sure AMC is in your cable package. And what about the second season of Ricky Gervais’s After Life? You’ll need Netflix for that. And if you want to catch the premiere of the highly anticipated Little Fires Everywhere, don’t forget to pay your Hulu bills!
Getting a headache? You may be falling ill to subscription fatigue.
What is subscription fatigue?
Subscription fatigue is when streaming service consumers feel underwhelmed, tired and frustrated with TV and movie streaming options. It’s a recently-coined term but an affliction that has likely plagued streamers for much longer.
Subscription fatigue became most apparent after the release of the 13th edition of Deloitte’s Digital media trends survey. Here’s what they found:
- 47% of consumers are frustrated by the ever-increasing number of subscriptions they need to be able to watch everything they want
- 43% of consumers give up if they can’t find what they want to watch in a few minutes
- Consumers are increasingly frustrated by the costs, complexity and effort required to watch what they want
Overall, subscription fatigue makes us feel like there’s nothing good to watch. Sound familiar? Read on to find out if you’ve fallen victim to subscription fatigue — and how to cure it.
Subscription fatigue symptoms
71% of consumers subscribe to some sort of video streaming service. You might be aware of your subscription fatigue or you could be an unknowing victim. Whichever category you fall into, use the following self-diagnosis to assess the likelihood that you’re suffering from subscription fatigue.
- You spend more time finding something to watch than actually streaming – You scroll through Netflix, Disney+, Hulu and Amazon Prime only to find that 20 minutes later you still haven’t started streaming anything. With so many platforms offering thousands of watching options, your simple search for a family flick feels like finding a needle in a haystack.
- Your shows are MIA – One of the top consumer frustrations highlighted in the Deloitte survey is when shows disappear from streaming sites. As contracts change and new streaming platforms emerge, shows that were previously viewable on a platform vanish into thin air. You might find yourself stuck halfway through a series without any way to finish. (Remember when we all streamed The Office on Netflix nonstop, given its rumored removal from the platform — which has yet to happen?)
- Bigger bills – If you’re paying for several streaming services, your monthly bills likely resemble that of a small cable or satellite TV package. If you’re paying for several streaming services on top of a TV package, you’re probably spending hundreds of dollars per month on entertainment. Another survey found that 84% of consumers actually underestimate their true streaming costs. Many estimates were off by more than $100. Consumers’ desire for original, ad-free content comes with a large price tag.
- Data concerns – The more services you subscribe to, the more you’ll have to give personal and financial information to streaming companies. This leaves you at a higher risk for cybersecurity issues or privacy protection problems. According to a study cited in the Deloitte research, 23% of U.S. households experienced cybercrime in 2018 ― that’s almost one in every four!
- Inability to remember passwords – More streaming services means more passwords. And if you’re overwhelmed with them all, you’re not alone. One-third of respondents to one survey said that remembering streaming account passwords is their biggest pain point.
- You crave exclusive content – According to the Deloitte study, in 2018, 57% of paid streaming video users said they subscribed to watch original content. It makes sense ― some of today’s most awarded shows and movies are original productions exclusive to individual subscription services. Consider this:
- The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (only available through an Amazing Prime streaming subscription) has won at least 33 awards, including 16 Emmys.
- Russian Doll (only available through a Netflix streaming subscription) has won three Emmy Awards of its 13 nominations.
- Barry (only available through HBO) has won six Emmy Awards of its 30 nominations.
Find out if you’re suffering from subscription fatigue
How to cure your subscription fatigue
Luckily, there is a cure for subscription fatigue. If you or one of your loved ones has been hit with subscription fatigue, look to the following solutions:
- Intermittent subscriptions – If you’re only interested in a streaming service for one show or new season, consider canceling the service after you finish watching. If another season is released later, you can simply re-subscribe. Most streaming services use a month-by-month billing cycle, which means you can keep your subscriptions flexible.
- Cold-turkey cancellations – One possible solution to your subscription fatigue (and high bills) may be simply canceling the services that mean the least to you. If you subscribed to a service just to catch one popular movie, but don’t plan on watching its other content, go ahead and cancel it.
- Rentals and single-show purchases – Blockbuster may be a thing of the past, but that doesn’t mean entertainment rentals are dead. If you want to watch something specific (like a movie or docuseries) try renting or purchasing it via iTunes, Amazon or YouTube rather than paying for a subscription service. This could be way more affordable if you rarely watch TV but enjoy the occasional movie.
- Free trials – Many streaming services will give a free trial. To catch the latest season of Survivor, I signed up for a free trial of CBS All Access to stream episodes while I was traveling. Just remember to cancel before the free trial period is up! Pro tip: Set a calendar reminder.
- Bundle it – Amdocs found that 37% of streamers switch services because of cost. One way to cut costs is to bundle streaming subscriptions — an option that 40% of consumers actively seek out. Disney+ bundled with Hulu and ESPN+ at a single monthly cost. You can also look at other streaming services, like music. Students can subscribe to Spotify Premium, Hulu and SHOWTIME for just $4.99/mo., for example. In fact, 69% of consumers are interested in bundling streaming services, even if the packaged services aren’t their first choice. Another bonus? Just one password!
Sadly, with the inception of several new streaming platforms (including ones from Disney, Apple and NBC), it’s only going to get harder to find all your favorite shows under one umbrella. However, with all of these platforms working to produce their own original content, we should have plenty of great new series and films to enjoy in the near future.
Originally written on 5/17/2019. Last updated 3/6/2020.