In a moment of frustration, I canceled my Netflix account earlier this month. The streaming service had dropped the one show I wanted to watch (Halt and Catch Fire, an excellent 4-season show depicting an alternate timeline of the rise of the personal computer and the internet). And I had to watch it on the $8.99 per month AMC Plus.
And since I'd be spending more I didn't want to keep paying that $20 monthly fee for Netflix in 4K. Especially when I'm not interested in the best shows on Netflix or the best movies on Netflix at this moment.
And then a funny thing happened: even after I finished Halt and Catch Fire, I found myself not needing Netflix, supported by other streaming services that had other shows I wanted to watch. If I were a reality TV show type, I'm sure I'd want to know about the Love Is Blind season 2 finale, but, alas.
All while Netflix released tempting and buzzy new movies and shows such as Tinder Swindler and Inventing Anna. But, very recently, I've started to plot out when I will go back to Netflix, while looking at the services I'm currently using to decide if I want to keep them or not.
And no, I'm not going back because of what's new on Netflix this next month, but because of a certain show Netflix has that brought in from the outside that nobody else has. Looking at my streaming services, I think I know where I'll (temporarily) make room in my budget by canceling one of our top best streaming service picks.
I'm loving Hulu for old and new shows
Most recently, I've really made the most out of the ad-supported Hulu (normally $6.99 per month), which I'm getting at a steal thanks to the Black Friday 2021 deal that lowers the price to $1 per month (for 12 months). On Hulu, I've binged two seasons of Killing Eve (to catch up for season 4, which is about to debut), and I also caught up on What We Do In The Shadows (which had a terrific season 3 finale).
Hulu also has the amazing Abbott Elementary, as it gets new episodes of the fantastic ABC sitcom (which is at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes), which I'm catching up on while it's on a break.
I may not need Hulu for Abbott, though, as I'm debating dropping the $35 per month Sling TV for YouTube TV (which would annoyingly increase my streaming budget by $30 per month). That said, I wouldn't drop Hulu just yet — even if that happens. Not unless I bounce off of Fargo, Justified and The Shield, the three shows Hulu has that I have always wanted to watch.
No budget change: Hulu is still $1 per month (and I'm not sure about canceling Sling TV yet)
Apple TV Plus is finally shining
Apple TV Plus has also been a mighty winner for me as of late, proving I was right to add them to our best streaming services list. Falling back in love with Apple TV started when I binged the first six episodes of The Afterparty in a single day, devouring Apple's zany genre-shifting murder mystery when plans fell through one night.
But I truly wanted to shout my praise for Apple TV Plus when I watched the first two episodes of Severance, which I believe is the best new show on any streaming service. Yes, we loved (and still love) the amazing Yellowjackets when it put Showtime back on the map, but Severance is an emotionally powerful sci-fi experience that hid inside of Black Mirror comparisons, and looks to be much more than an imitator of that anthology series.
I won't get rid of Apple TV Plus even after I finish these shows, though. Just like people who get Prime Video because of Amazon Prime, the $29.99 per month Apple One Premier bundle makes too much fiscal sense when I chose the $9.99 per month Apple Music over Spotify and use the highest tier of iCloud storage (2TB for $9.99 per month).
That means I get the $4.99 per month Apple TV Plus and Apple Arcade (both normally $4.99 per month), and Apple News Plus and Apple Fitness Plus (both normally $9.99 per month) all for $10 per month (savings of $20 per month). I may decide that these four services aren't necessary (I don't use them every day), and simply churn on Apple TV Plus — but the $5 to $10 in savings per month isn't really a must right now.
No budget change: Apple TV Plus is $5 per month
I'm begrudgingly keeping AMC Plus
You may recall how I cycled through trials to save money as I binged Halt and Catch Fire on AMC Plus, AMC's $8.99 per month (available via Amazon Channels) service sold on a variety of platforms. AMC Plus is the only place I could watch Halt and Catch Fire.
But just when I was about to cancel AMC Plus, I found out that I'm going to want it for the next few months. Why? Well, AMC Plus will unlock early access to Killing Eve, as it gets episodes (after the premiere) a week earlier than BBC America or AMC. It's a weird hustle that AMC is running with this (why this app doesn't have any Better Call Saul, I'll get to that in a moment).
Budget changes: +$8.99 per month for AMC Plus now that I'm all out of free trials
Netflix (kinda) has the shows I want
All of that is just prelude, though, as I'm going to resume my Netflix subscription a little more than a month after I canceled it. Taking a break from Netflix has saved me $20, which will go to the AMC Plus subscription, as mentioned above.
My return to Netflix is all because of the countdown to the show I care about the most (besides Euphoria): Better Call Saul. Yes, it's not even a Netflix show that's luring me back. But Netflix is the only streaming service with Better Call Saul. Yes, AMC Plus doesn't even have one of AMC's best shows.
The only problem? Netflix only currently offers Better Call Saul seasons 1 through 4, and season 6 starts on April 18. Which means that I'm living in frustration when it comes to whenever the heck Netflix will get Better Call Saul season 5. (Editor's note: The Better Call Saul season 5 Netflix release date is confirmed for April 4, 2022.)
In short, Better Call Saul season 5 is a season in limbo. AMC Plus doesn't have it either, so I've got two options. Hope that it arrives on Netflix early enough that I can binge it before season 6 premieres or just spend $25 on Better Call Saul season 5 on Amazon. That's more than a month of Netflix. If Better Call Saul season 5's Netflix date matches previous seasons, I should have a little under two weeks to finish it, which would be just enough.
But that means I need to be caught up with the first four seasons (I have three more to watch) by April 4. And as much as I want to say I can devour two seasons per week like I have with Killing Eve, I know Better Call Saul has been harder for me to binge.
So, I'm giving myself one week per season, with a Netflix renewal date of March 14. Yes, this is a little early (I'd love to only renew for a month), but I'm also curious about the show Formula 1: Drive to Survive, which will have four seasons to watch after its March 11 return.
Budget change: +$19.99 per month for 4K Netflix
So, where am I finding the budget space?
I love HBO Max. It's our top pick for the best streaming service. But this might be the month I take a break from it. And while I didn't mention Disney Plus, that's because I'm stuck with it while I give my parents a tour of the past MCU movies and shows. My colleague Kelly Woo, though, wishes she could cancel Disney Plus.
|$1 per month
|$1 per month
|Apple TV Plus
|$5 per month
|$5 per month
|$9 per month
|$9 per month
|$20 per month
|$15 per month
|$30 per month
|$35 per month
HBO has one show coming up that I want to watch: Barry, starring Bill Hader. But just like Better Call Saul, I also need to catch up on Barry (I started, and then bounced off it). Fortunately Barry season 3 isn't due until April 24, so I have time to catch up, potentially canceling from the second week of March to the second week of April (and it's going to be a while before Euphoria season 3 is out).
And looking at HBO and HBO Max's March 2022 list, I think I feel confident waiting until late March/early April to come back for that. It will all depend on if I do or not like Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty, the new drama series surrounding the 1980s Los Angeles Lakers. John C. Reilly stars as Jerry Buss, with Quincy Isaiah as Magic Johnson, Jason Clarke as Jerry West and Adrien Brody as Pat Riley. It debuts on March 6, so that episode will inform me if I can stop spending $15 per month on HBO Max for a month.
The other big additions to HBO Max are Dune (March 10), King Richard (March 24), Drive My Car (March 2). There's also The Larry David Story (March 1), a docuseries about the comedic genius. Fortunately, canceling HBO Max on March 7 will give me enough time to see Drive My Car and The Larry David Story.
All of this is personal, so your mileage on the service you need will vary. This past month of churning in and out of Netflix has felt like a welcome change, where I'm finally more conscientious about the streaming services I am paying for. I'd rather think more about what I want to watch than just wonder "what should I watch on Netflix?"
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Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.