Digital subscriptions | How I saved $1400 in an hour


Netflix or Disney+? Club Illico or ICI Spotify or Tidal? Digital subscription offers abound, and many consumers, like our journalist, do not choose: they take them all. Or almost. However, there are very effective ways to avoid “digital oversubscription”, found by consulting the right people.

Posted yesterday at 5:00 am

Karim Benessaieh

Karim Benessaieh

Five hundred dollars a month. Last fall I realized, with a simple Excel file, what the ideal client was for digital subscription vendors and telcos.

Well, from that total let’s take out the $320 for internet for the house and the cabin, as well as the family’s four cell phone plans. Some savings to go there, but that will be for another file.

We are left with $180 per month of digital subscriptions that have accumulated over the years.

Start with Spotify and Netflix in home and 4K, because everyone wants their own music in their bedroom and no one wants to listen to movies in low definition: $40.21 per month.

How to do without Apple Music, its incredibly adapted lists and the possibility of having your own music library on all Apple devices? Come on, let’s take the large Apple One package, at $18.34, which also gives us Apple TV+, Arcade and 50 GB of storage. It’s hard not to fall in love with Tidal’s high-definition music, with quality headphones for those late-night walks. I’ve probably canceled four times in two years only to get back on board a few months later.

Then $79 a year to receive packages from Amazon in less than two days with no shipping costs, while enjoying Prime Video and Music, that’s a bargain. Add to that the subscriptions to the online video game services PS Plus and Xbox Gold, taken to try a particular game and never canceled. Sonos Radio HD and Amazon Music Unlimited, to the point of indolence. Cafeyn and its hundreds of French magazines for $14.91? A godsend, even if I never have time to flip through them.

ICI, for $8.04, is not enough to expect my daughters to watch a minimum of Quebec content. A total failure. And the list ends with Disney+, which was trialed for free last year and became impossible to cancel without causing an uproar in the house.

And to think we got rid of the cable in 2017 to save money.

“A big family”

“In fact, it is the reality for many people,” says Anaïs Beaulieu-Laporte, an analyst at Union des consommateurs. In many cases, people have canceled their cable subscription because they found it too expensive and switched to $15 platforms that add up. You have to be aware that costs go up very fast. »

We do not know what exact percentage of Quebecers suffer from this subscription abuse. A quick look at the latest Digital Portrait of Quebec Householdsthe NETendances 2021 edition, however, gives some indications regarding video platforms.

According to this report, 71% of Quebecers subscribe to at least one paid online viewing service. At the other end of the telescope, add up the percentages from the different departments: you get 143%. In other words, Quebec subscribers would have on average about two online viewing services.

In the United States, according to a Deloitte Insights survey conducted in February 2021, it would be even more spectacular: subscribers would have an average of four video services.

In short, I am far from alone. “You are part of a very large family,” says Bruno Guglielminetti, host of the digital news podium. My notebook. “I have Netflix, Prime Video, Club Illico, I wander between Apple TV and Disney+, I cancel them, I go back on board and from time to time I go to CraveTV. And I also have Google Stadia. »


Bruno Guglielminetti, presenter of the digital news podium My notebook

Gabrielle Thibault-Delorme, who presents herself as a “semi-volunteer simplicity blogger”, has addressed precisely this question in an article for the magazine Urbania.

She wrote knowingly.

“I was subscribed to almost everything. Four years ago, he was crazy in general. I ended up with a good $24,000 in debt. My expenses, I let them go and I didn’t portray all of that. I found myself at the schnoutte. »

Browse the platforms

Small precision here: it is quite exceptional that the multiplication of subscriptions is the main cause of financial difficulties. “The leisure budget is what people cut when they no longer have money,” says Anaïs Beaulieu-Laporte of the Union des consommateurs. This observation appears to be confirmed at the ACEF in East Montreal, where we reviewed the application for Press the files of consumers who have been in financial difficulty for a year.

“Of the forty randomly selected archives, none had subscriptions to these platforms”, specifies Sonia Saint-Pierre, coordinator.

Gabrielle Thibault-Delorme’s method of avoiding falling into debt again is simple: She gives herself specific budgets for various expenses, including $30 per month for her video and audio subscriptions. Since she still keeps Spotify, she walks every three months between the different video platforms. Her main criteria: which series are available at a specific time and which ones she wants to watch.

“Apple TV+, I took it for ted lasso, but I changed pretty quickly. Right now I’m on CraveTV because I wanted to Succession. I am a little over my three months, I am very happy with Crave. »

This transition from one platform to another is much easier since most do not offer financial incentives to get an annual subscription, says Bruno Guglielminetti. “From a business perspective, I don’t get it. They do not give any incentive to loyalty, we do not have any economic advantage. But for the consumer it is interesting and convenient. »

cut in the fat

Another advantage for subscribers is that most platforms offer a free trial period. “It’s super interesting to see the content available,” says Anaïs Beaulieu-Laporte. When there is only one show you are interested in, we have a great opportunity to watch it and unsubscribe afterwards. »

More generally, remember that there are “basic tips” to follow for subscriptions, digital or otherwise. “We can’t realistically consume everything at the same time. It seems important to me to choose only what you need. You have to remember that there are only 24 hours in a day. »

I followed the advice of my interviewees. Shortly before writing this article, I cleaned up my superfluous digital subscriptions. I’ll spare you the long list. Tidal, Apple One and Amazon Prime, among others, have fallen by the wayside, as have online video games and little-read magazines. Amazon rolled up screens to convince me to stay, Cafeyn got me through PayPal for cancellation, and ICI TOU.TV gave me a $3 discount for six months. But it only took an hour to eliminate $116 in expenses per month.

Or $1400 for a full year. Unless he relapses by then.

Digital subscriptions: some figures


Quebecers’ subscription rate to home television services (compared to 71% for online viewing services)

4.5 billion

Revenue from Internet video services in Canada in 2019

Source: Communications Monitoring Report, CRTC 2020

482 million

Revenue from streaming audio services over the Internet in Canada in 2019

Source: Communications Monitoring Report, CRTC 2020

61 billion US

Estimated Global Video on Demand Revenue in 2020

Source: Statesman

13.4 billion US

Global online music streaming revenue in 2020

Source: Statesman


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