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When Is It Worth Spending More For an Ad-Free Streaming Subscription? When Should You Choose the Cheaper Tier?

Ben Bowman

As cord-cutters juggle more streaming services, the prices can really add up. The average home uses 4-6 different services these days, so that’s a significant cost. Thankfully, most streaming services allow us to save money with an ad-supported tier. Disney+ and Netflix will roll out ad-supported versions soon. But whether you choose to watch ads or not may depend on your circumstances. Here are some things to consider when deciding on which subscription is right for you.

Love Movies? Choose Ads

Nearly every streaming service that provides full-length films offers them with just one ad break - a short pre-roll ad before the film begins. A service like HBO Max is perfect for this. There’s a huge movie library, and it’s not that bad to sit through one ad break before your film.

Love TV Shows? Pay for Premium

If you have a favorite TV show that you love to watch on a regular basis, it’s worth paying up for the ad-free subscription. Streamers love to jam commercial breaks into TV shows that originally aired on network TV — that’s easy to do because they were created with ad breaks in mind.

A bigger problem comes with streaming originals that weren’t always designed with those natural spots for commercials. In those cases, streaming services like Hulu shove a commercial break seemingly at random. It can be jarring to encounter these without a natural act break - in some cases, you’ll see a few frames of a new scene, then the commercial break, then the resumption of the previous scene.

Trying a New Service? Choose Ads

While the premium tier always offers a superior experience, you may be happy with the ad-supported experience. Unless you have an unlimited streaming budget, choosing an ad-supported tier will save money and it gives you the chance to sample the service to see if it’s worth the upgrade. Every service allows you to upgrade or downgrade your subscription as needed.

Subscribing for Your Kids? Pay for Premium

If you’re a parent, nothing good can come from letting your kids watch commercials. There are some awesome free services for children like PBS Kids that may only expose your little ones to one relatively harmless ad. But if your kids want to binge “PAW Patrol” or “SpongeBob SquarePants,” it’s worth paying a little more for the ad-free version of a service like Paramount+.

Younger viewers are used to streaming on demand as their primary method of entertainment, so it’s best to shield them from ads when possible. Of course, it’s also worth making sure their viewing habits are healthy as well, so be sure to mix in some educational content alongside the talking animals.

Not Watching As Much? Choose Ads

If you have a service you want to keep, but maybe you’re not watching as much, it’s worth downshifting to the ad-supported tier. That way, you still have access to its shows and movies if you’d like to check in periodically. If a hot new show hits the service, you can upgrade to eliminate ads.

Looking to Save the Most Money? Consolidate and Go Premium

While it can be tempting to keep a dozen subscriptions, you’re probably better off spending your money on fewer subscriptions and really bingeing the catalogs. If you truly concentrate on those services, you’ll find those hidden gems and work your way through your often-neglected queues. At the end of the month, drop the service entirely. When you have fewer services, you’ll spend less time cycling between them each night.

Rember, there are great services like Tubi, Pluto TV, and Freevee that have lots of movies and shows for free if your paid services aren’t fitting the bill. It’s very easy to find lots of entertainment without the premium cost.

Related: Best Free Streaming Services ►

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