The Only Subscription Service You Need In 2024 Is A VPN

TheGamer’s pick for the 2023 Movie of the Year is Bottoms, and while I’ve heard great things about it, I haven’t been able to watch it yet. It’s not for lack of trying. I made time to sit down and watch it this week, only to find out it’s only streaming on a service called AMC+. I nearly subscribed on pure instinct, but I caught myself at the last moment, cursor hovering over the seven-day free trial button, and decided better. I’m not the first person to say it, but streaming has become worse than cable ever was.


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With the news that Amazon Prime Video is jacking up the monthly cost by $3 (after already raising the annual price at the start of the year), I decided it was time to take a look at all my subscriptions. I often pick certain ones up to watch something specific, like Bottoms, and it’s hard to remember which ones I have at any given time. I’m currently subscribed to Amazon Prime, Netflix, Paramount Plus (exclusively for The Curse), Max, Dropout, Disney Plus, and Shudder. Throughout 2023, I was almost intermittently subscribed to Apple TV Plus, Showtime, Hulu, and – for one drunken weekend night when I was feeling particularly cultured – The Criterion Channel. That doesn’t include all the other subscriptions I have, like Game Pass, AMC A-List (the theater, not the channel), Quip, or the various Patreons I support.

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Just counting the ones I’m currently subbed to, I’m spending around $100 on TV, which is about how much cable costs, too. I’ve always known this. I’ve never liked it, but I’ve accepted it because, for years, having these services has given me access to practically everything I could ever want to watch. That changed significantly this year, and I’m about to nuke the entire operation and go back to the old ways.

Content is spread far and wide across exceedingly niche subscription services these days, and it’s just too hard to justify the cost anymore. I’m so sick of Googling a new movie or show to find out where it’s streaming, only to discover it’s on a service I don’t have and have never heard of. It’s happening more and more, and I don’t think it’s going to stop.

My favorite movie TikToker, Cooper (@movieboyguy), put out his list of the best movies this year. He has great taste, and I’d love to watch his picks, but I was stunned to discover that not a single one is available on any of the seven services I’m subscribed to. His number one, Poor Things, is still in theaters, but the rest are spread to the far corners of the internet in increasingly obscure places. One, Sick of Myself, is on Showtime, another, Blackberry, is on Apple TV Plus. Three are on AMC+ (maybe I should get that one), three are on Hulu, one is on Starz, one is The Criterion Channel, and two are streaming exclusively on Mubi. I don’t know what that is, and I don’t want to find out. As much as I’d love to watch Rotting in the Sun, subscribing to Mubi would cost me the only shred of humanity I have left.

Bundled streaming services will help with this to some degree. As much as I hate the idea that we’re just turning streaming back into cable, I just need some convenience.

The wild thing is that, according to Forbes, the average number of streaming services per person is less than three. I have access to more than double the number of movies and shows than the average person (50 percent of people don’t have a single subscription, apparently), and yet the things I want to watch are never available. Most people just launch Netflix and watch whatever is on, but the whole point of streaming is that it allows us to watch what we want, not just whatever is on.

The streaming services are digging their own graves with this nonsense. Healthy competition is one thing, but having dozens of different platforms causes confusion, destroys discoverability, and makes something as simple as watching a movie difficult and frustrating. Not to mention the constant price hikes, which decrease the value of each individual service even more. You might not be able to cut subscriptions entirely, but a good VPN may be the only subscription you need in 2024.

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