October 19, 2019

Drowning In Digital Subscriptions

“The last time Netflix asked me “Are you still watching?” I had to think really hard about it. Was I still watching? Or at least enough to make my $16-a-month payment worth it?

The subscription economy can be a wonderful thing. We don’t have to pay for lots of stuff we don’t want. The monthly price is usually pretty low. And it gives us an incentive to watch things that we might otherwise avoid because they are too expensive on a per-item basis.

But there’s a big downside as well, especially when it comes to the video world. It’s called subscription creep.

It can happen fast. Maybe you’ll pay $16 for a Netflix account and $6 for a Hulu subscription. A $13 click for Amazon Prime here and a $15 one there for HBO Go. But those prices you might not think twice about in the moment can end up leaving you with a $600 tab on video alone by year’s end. It did for me.

Of course, as the gym membership key tag I carried around for years could attest to, paying for services without actually using them is hardly something new. Subscriptions have always been bought aspirationally. What’s new—thanks to the proliferation of monthly subscriptions combined with a new cutting-the-cord ethos—is the amount of mental gymnastics we have to do when deciding whether or not to keep paying for them over time.”

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