Streaming plan costs compared: Then and now

Remember when streaming was first introduced as an affordable alternative to cable? 

Well, with the launch of several new streaming platforms in the past decade all issuing continuous price hikes, it seems that streaming is becoming increasingly difficult to justify for some consumers. 

Netflix confirmed that it will be raising prices again in December, despite a recent price hike in October. 

READ MORE: Netflix raising prices again in December

Apple Inc. is raising the prices for its AppleTV+ streaming and Arcade gaming plans as well as its bundled Apple One service that includes streaming, music and other subscriptions.

The Walt Disney Co., meanwhile, raised the monthly cost of ad-free Disney+ to $13.99, by roughly 27% and the cost of ad-free Hulu rose by 20% to $17.99.

So what happened? 

Simply put, streamers lose a ton of money. Netflix set a standard that many major studios chased which involved sparing no expense to produce content in hopes of attracting millions of potential new subscribers. 

At first, Netflix was applauded for its subscriber growth until it lost 200,000 subscribers in 2022. 

This quickly led to a correction in the industry in which profitability trumps all. This prompted many streamers to cut costs and cut content. 

There was the HBO purge of 2022 in which its parent company, Warner Bros., merged with Discovery, enabling a slew of tax write-off possibilities like the $70 million "Batgirl" movie that was never released. 

Casey Bloys, chair and CEO of HBO and HBO Max, said on an episode of "The Watch" podcast that streamers are taking a closer look at their libraries and seeing how best to profit.

"The idea that everything a company produces will be in one spot forever and ever, for $15 a month, for eternity, is a relatively new concept," Bloys said. "$15 a month is going to cover everything for the rest of time? It’s a nice idea, but it’s not viable."

Below is a graph of what some popular streaming platforms cost when they launched and what they cost in 2023. 

According to a study of digital media trends by Deloitte published in 2019, American have, on average, three streaming video subscription services. 

While some have dropped cable and its average bill of around $100 a month altogether, about 43% have both pay TV and streaming subscriptions.

Yet patching together a variety of services to get just what one wants isn’t always seamless. Families and individuals can still find themselves with service that doesn’t perfectly suit their viewing habits. And those monthly subscriptions can add up fast.