Disney+ was the tipping point.
When the new streaming service launched in New Zealand last week , I finally pondered the question that's been nagging away for a few months now: How many streaming subscriptions is too many?
Between Netflix ($11.99 for a basic plan), Neon ($13.95), Amazon Prime Video ($9.50), Lightbox ($12.99) and now Disney's foray into the streaming-verse ($9.99), an enthusiastic consumer of television is looking at paying upwards of $58.42 a month. Over a year, that adds up to... maths I can't do.
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But let's just agree it's a not insignificant investment for many people.
It's had me wondering if perhaps life could go on without access to every single streaming service on God's green Earth. What would it be like to go back to the days where free-to-air content was the only TV available? I decided to cut myself off from my beloved pay streaming services for a few days and find out.
As I took my first tentative steps into this brave new (old) world, I decided pretty quickly that relying solely on linear TV was not going to cut it.
In among some really very good content in our free-to-air channels' primetime slots, there was also the usual littering of underwhelming programming. TVNZ 1's Your Home Made Perfect promised a home makeover show in which couples "try before they buy" using virtual reality. Riveting. Bravo's trash-tastic lineup included something called Accident, Suicide or Murder. Yikes.
But, luckily, there were still a few free streaming services at my disposal.
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Prime has a small catch-up service for their locally-made content (including the current season of The Brokenwood Mysteries), while Māori Television has more than 11,600 episodes of news, comedy, cooking, art and documentaries to scroll through.
ThreeNow also has an extensive catch-up service for shows across Three, ThreeLife and Bravo (just in case you miss Accident, Suicide or Murder in its Monday night slot) although it's largely dominated by the incredibly popular Love Island properties these days. Why pay for a streaming service when you can watch literal hours of young, good-looking Australians, Americans or Brits trying to find love and/or fame in a posh villa? Right?
But as far as free TV goes, TVNZ's OnDemand service remains the pick of the bunch. As well as being a catch-up service for the network's major titles like Shortland Street and Wellington Paranormal, it's also been New Zealand's first home for some of the world's biggest shows this year — think Killing Eve, Catch-22, Legacies or MotherFatherSon.
Also packed with local gems like Educators and Anika Moa Unleashed, an onslaught of further OnDemand-only shows coming down the pipeline in 2020 might — might — help viewers forget about The Mandalorian over on Disney+.
I know I'd be happy to see Anika Moa reuniting New Zealand's favourite bands in Anika Moa: Reunited or watch employees inviting managing directors to live under their roof in Living With The Boss instead.
There's also enough nostalgic TV content on there to maybe — maybe — distract from the latest hot HBO drama over on Neon. We're talking ER, Seinfeld or The West Wing. Then there's Friends, which inexplicably remains one of TVNZ OnDemand's most popular shows, as a new generation presumably chooses to enjoy it or those of us who saw it the first time marvel at all the ways we never noticed Ross was kind of a sociopath.
This is all a very roundabout way of saying that there's a whole lot of TV out there if the streaming services are starting to hit you in the pocket — or if you can't stomach the thought of scrolling through Netflix's upcoming swathe of very cheesy Christmas flicks.
I'd like to tell you that I'm giving up all those streaming services following my little experiment, but that would be lying. Because I still haven't quite finished season three of The Crown on Netflix yet. And I still haven't started His Dark Materials over on Neon. And I quite fancy rewatching Fleabag on Amazon Prime, too. And I also, you know, write about TV.
But there's still hope for the rest of you if casting yourselves free from some of those pay TV shackles is a goal for the New Year.