Subscription wars: The battle for your wallet

Abraham Fuentes, Photo Editor

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You enter a binge-worthy new dimension between the darkness of your living room and the daylight of your daily commute, where you need to pay for only one streaming service and every great show is available to you: “Stranger Things,” “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”

But then you emerge into reality and find yourself paying for five different subscriptions and considering adding one more because “The Twilight Zone” remake and “Star Trek: Discovery” are now available on CBS All Access.

This is the never-ending war for your eyeballs, fought by companies such as Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime, with Apple the latest to announce its battle plans. There has been only one casualty: the consumer.

The consumer is stuck deciding what to pay for and most of the time she is unable to cut a subscription because of one show. I can’t get rid of Netflix because of “Sabrina.” The same goes for Hulu and SNL.

Amazon’s basic subscription plan is a must, not only for its streaming content but because it includes two-day shipping, Prime reading, Prime music, Prime video and Amazon photos with options to upgrade plans for more content. A student discount is available, dropping the price by half.

So, how do we choose where to spend our time? Consider the price, content and extras your subscriptions include to decide if it’s worth it. The problem is it takes only one exclusive show or movie to lure you into signing up.

Apple plans to release four new subscriptions: Apple TV+, Apple News+, Apple Arcade and Apple News. The main focus for Apple seems to be Apple TV+, a video subscription service that will compete against HBO, Hulu, Netflix and Amazon.

Apple plans to use original content from big names such as Steven Spielberg, M. Night Shyamalan and J.J. Abrams to compete with the other subscription giants. Its secret weapon — Oprah Winfrey, who will release multiple documentaries and produce a health series with Prince Harry.

Apple’s subscription services currently range from $5 to $15, which allows users to estimate the potential pricing for Apple TV+.

The other giant entering the subscription business is Disney. It’s new streaming service, Disney+, will be priced at $6.99 per month or $69.99 per year.

This subscription will rely on its own new content and its massive vault. Content will include all of Marvel, “Star Wars,” Pixar, Disney Animation and everything under 21st Century Fox.

Because of its new platform, Disney is removing its content from Netflix. This will create a gap that Netflix will have to fill with original content.

If you want to add both Apple and Disney, your subscription budget could increase by about $17 per month.

All of these services are targeted towards cord cutters, with the promise of lower prices than cable — but this has shown to be false. Yes, subscription prices are less than cable if you only get one — but add up every $10 subscription and you could easily top $100 or more per month.

The gaming and music industries face a similar problem. You can pay $9.99 for a music library of a million songs or a game library of about 100 games for the same price as an album or video game.

Although not as extreme as the video subscriptions, Xbox has two subscriptions: Xbox Game Pass and EA Access. The music industry has three big players at the moment: Spotify, Google Play Music and Apple Music.

Netflix steadily increased its prices in the last few years, with the newest price bump going into effect May 2019; the standard subscription will go from $8 to $9 and the premium plan will rise from $14 to $16.

Companies keep subscribers hooked to their services with a continual stream of compelling original content, such as Netflix’s “The Umbrella Academy” and Amazon’s “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan.”

The problem subscribers face is staying up to date on all the popular shows to binge so they’re not left out of the conversation.

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