Let’s face it: some of us are so busy these days — what with pandemics and presidential elections and attempted overthrows of the government — that we don’t pay enough attention to what we are subscribed to (and paying for). Especially now, when there are more and more streaming services vying for our attention, it’s easy to go for a trial subscription, or to decide that you’re going to subscribe “just for a couple of months,” and then completely forget about it. Meanwhile, your charge card is being pinged every month.
For example, Matthew Inman, the artist who creates the comics site The Oatmeal, recently reported (to his apparent chagrin), that he had been paying for Netflix’s DVD subscription for the last 13 years:
Today Netflix was kind enough to let me know that I’ve accidentally been paying for a DVD subscription for THIRTEEN FUCKING YEARS.
I have been renting imaginary DVDs since
George Bush was president.
The lesson here: keep an eye on your subscriptions. And vote Obama 2008. pic.twitter.com/iNtpuKzkdD
— The Oatmeal (@Oatmeal) January 12, 2021
(For our younger readers: yes, Netflix started out as a DVD rental service and then segued to the streaming service it is today.)
So it may be a good idea, especially if your income is a little tight, to check your current streaming subscriptions and drop the ones that you haven’t used for several months. (After all, unless you’re grandfathered into an especially good deal — and that’s happening less and less these days — you can always re-up again if there’s something on the service you want to watch.)
One thing to be aware of: during the process of canceling a streaming service, you may need to go through several pages or pop-ups urging you to not cancel or to at least settle for a less expensive (and usually less feature-filled) version of the service. In fact, according to the BBC, several lawsuits by such organizations as The Norwegian Consumer Council and Public Citizen in the US are claiming that Amazon Prime’s canceling process manipulates consumers into keeping their subscriptions. So be prepared.
Here’s where you can go to cancel some of the more popular streaming services.
You can find your current subscription status at Netflix by clicking on your personal icon on the top-right corner and choosing “Account.” The second section down should be “Plan Details,” and you’ll not only be able to change your plan, but you’ll immediately see if you have a live DVD plan.
If you want to leave the service completely, there is a “Cancel Membership” button to the left in the “Membership & Billing” section.”
If you’re a month-to-month member of Amazon Prime and decide you want to cancel, you can go to this page and click on the “End Membership” button.
If, on the other hand, you’ve paid for an annual membership, you can only cancel within three days of signing up. You can also cancel that paid annual membership if you’ve just converted from a free trial or “if you and your account did not make any eligible purchases or take advantage of Prime benefits since your latest Prime membership charge” (in other words, if you’ve never used any of your Prime benefits since you paid for it).
If you want to completely close your Amazon account and delete all of your data, you can go to this page.
HBO Max can be subscribed to either by itself, or through a number of different providers, such as the Apple App Store, Google Play, Roku, and a bunch of others. The best way to find out how to drop the service is to go to HBO’s help page on canceling your subscription or trial and clicking on the appropriate link for directions.
According to HBO, you should try to cancel one or two days before your billing cycle renews, and if you cancel mid-month, you will still have access to HBO Max until the month is up.
Apple TV Plus
As with HBO Max, your Apple TV Plus subscription will be useable until the end of the billing cycle, even after you cancel it.
Instructions for canceling your Apple subscriptions can be found here. In short:
To cancel on your Mac, go to the App Store, click your name (at the bottom of the page) and then “View Information” (at the top). Go to “Subscriptions” > “Manage.” Click on “Edit” next to the subscription you want to cancel and select “Cancel Subscription.” On an iPhone or iPad, go to “Settings,” select your name, then “Subscriptions.” Select the subscription you want to leave, and Tap on Cancel Subscription.
Like Apple TV Plus and HBO Max, your canceled subscription will last until the end of your billing cycle.
Hulu offers instructions on how to cancel here. Since, like HBO Max, there’s a good chance you’ve signed up through a third party such as Amazon, Verizon, or Sprint, there are several links on the page where you can get specific instructions.
Interestingly, you can either cancel or pause your YouTube TV subscription (links for either process are on the same page). Pausing is a good option if for some reason (a vacation, a work project, temporary financial difficulties) you don’t want to use the subscription for anywhere from four weeks to six months. You won’t be able to use the service during that time to watch or record, but your already-recorded content will be saved. Once the pause is over (either via a pre-selected date or if you manually end the pause period), your billing will recommence.
If you want to leave YouTube TV entirely, select “Cancel Now” on that same page. You will still have service until the end of your payment period; after that, you’ll have another 21 days to view the recorded programs in your library.
To cancel your Disney Plus subscription on the website, go to your profile icon in the upper-right corner, and then click on “Account.” Find your subscription level under the subhead “Subscription,” click on that, and then scroll down to where it says “Cancel Subscription.” As with most other services, you will still have access to Disney Plus until the end of your billing cycle.
Note that canceling Disney Plus TV does not cancel your general Disney account.
Image: ESPN Plus
ESPN Plus is another one of those services that is available via a number of third-party sources, such as Roku, Amazon, Apple Pay, and iTunes.
If you subscribed directly via the web and want to cancel your subscription, log in, select “Manage” > “Cancel Subscription.” Otherwise, if you subscribed through one of the services mentioned above, your best bet is to go to this page, which links to all of the ways it’s possible to cancel, depending on how you originally subscribed.