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The streaming services will continue to nickel-and-dime us all — because they can

A Digital Trends story seen on an iPhone in front of loose change.
Phil Nickinson / Digital Trends

There’s no shortage of quotable lines in the classic 1989 movie Major League. “Just a bit outside.” “You trying to say Jesus Christ can’t hit a curveball?”

And one that I keep coming back to a lot recently? The late James Gammon’s manager Lou Brown, naked and in search of hot water in the locker room: “I’ve had it with this nickel-and-dime stuff.”

It’s what comes to mind when you look at the state of the various streaming services going into 2024. You can’t begrudge them for trying to make more money — that’s literally what they’re here to do. But time and time again, one after another, they’ve been nickel-and-diming us.

And there’s not a damn thing we can do about it.

It starts with increases to monthly subscription fees. And while that’s bad enough, it’s the passive-aggressive statements that accompany them that really leave a bad taste in my mouth. Yes, everything is seemingly more expensive these days. But if you’re going to do what Lou Brown did to Roger Dorn’s contract, at least do me the courtesy of not telling me that it’s raining. Instead, just say something like, “Look, we’re going to charge you a little more because we can. Maybe you’ll unsubscribe. But more of you will stay than not. We’ll be OK.”

Even worse, lately, has been the trend of adding new tiers of service with lower prices, offset by advertising. Sure, you pay less. But Netflix — which until 2023 didn’t have any sort of advertising on movies and shows — has come right out and said it: The company makes more money off customers on that cheaper tier, because the ads more than make up the difference.

As online services fight for every single dollar, the only way we can fight back is by canceling.

Still, that’s not even the worst part. The real nickel-and-dime stuff is how features have been locked away behind more expensive tiers of service.

Let’s use Netflix again in another example: You don’t get 4K resolution without paying for its top tier of service. Maybe you’re OK with that. Maybe you’re not. YouTube TV charges extra for that, too. And I get it. Bandwidth costs money.

But Amazon twisted the knife even further with its scheme. Everyone now gets ads unless they pay another $3 a month to get rid of them. But it also did away with features like Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision — but didn’t bother to tell anyone. I guess Amazon just hoped we wouldn’t notice?

(Not on my list: The services disallowing password sharing. They should have done that a long time ago.)

Look, the nickels matter. The dimes matter. The entertainment industry is a fickle one, and the business side of things is tough.

And I was wrong when I said there’s nothing we can do about it. We can cancel. We should cancel. We can come back if we want. But we need to take stock of what’s important. And if we’re not getting our money’s worth, it’s time to walk, even if only temporarily.

Because I’m tired of this nickel-and-dime stuff.

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Phil Nickinson
Section Editor, Audio/Video
Phil spent the 2000s making newspapers with the Pensacola (Fla.) News Journal, the 2010s with Android Central and then the…
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