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Don't Blow Your Holiday Budget on Streaming: Keep or Cancel These Services

Netflix wins for most new releases, but other services may entice you with festive content.

Daniel Craig as Benoit Blanc in a room full of glass sculptures in Knives Out 2
Daniel Craig as Detective Benoit Blanc, doing his job in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery.
Netflix

December means that Christmas movies and other holiday content take over every streaming service, but there is plenty of non-festive fare to watch too. Disney Plus has Willow, Knives Out 2 arrives on Netflix and Paramount Plus will finally stream Top Gun: Maverick. It's holiday time, and some of you may be tightening your belt to spend more money on gifts or travel and less on entertainment. But it's ultimately up to you what to skip.

Each month I share advice on which streaming services to cancel or keep, based on their new releases, price and current lineup. At a time where we're all curbing our spending, you may be thinking about dropping a few streaming subscriptions. I'd like to offer my strategy: churn like ice cream.

What is that? Subscribe for a time, cancel, choose a different service, then resubscribe, keeping your favorite services in a rotation. Pick one or two must-haves for the year and treat additional streaming providers like seasonal add-ons. The upside is that you get to save money when NetflixDisney Plus, HBO Max and others don't have the movies and shows you want to watch at a given time. Just remember to shut off auto-renewal for your monthly subscriptions. Rotating may not work if you're sharing your accounts with someone outside your household, but if you can swing an arrangement with your streaming inner circle, go for it. 

A few notes first. Come Dec. 8, Disney Plus will cost $8 per month for the basic version with ads and $11 monthly for the premium ad-free plan. And some of you may have bagged a great Black Friday discount on streaming services, so by no means should you cancel your subscription if you're getting it for really cheap. Hulu at $2 is a bargain! Don't lose it.

Here are my recommendations for which streamers to keep or cancel for December based on new TV shows and movies arriving on each platform.

Read more: Best Free TV Streaming Services: Peacock, Pluto TV, Tubi, Roku and More

Streaming service rotation for December 2022


Keep Cancel
Netflix X
Starz
X
Apple TV Plus
X
Disney Plus X
Hulu
X
Paramount Plus
X
Prime Video
X
Peacock X
HBO Max X

Keep your subscriptions to these services in December

Netflix: Where to begin? It's a busy month for 'flix, so keep it for all these releases. 

  • Bullet Train (Dec. 2) 
  • Firefly Lane season 2 part 1 (Dec. 2) 
  • Scrooge: A Christmas Carol with Olivia Colman, Luke Evans (Dec. 2)
  • The Boss Baby: Christmas Bonus (Dec. 6) 
  • Too Hot to Handle season 4 (Dec. 7)
  • Lookism anime adaptation (Dec. 8)
  • Dragon Age: Absolution anime based on the video game (Dec. 9)
  • Pinocchio from Guillermo del Toro (Dec. 9)
  • Alchemy of Souls season 1 part 2 (Dec. 10)
  • Gudetama: An Eggcellent Adventure (Dec. 13) -- the famous character debuts in a new show
  • Sonic Prime season 1 (Dec. 15)
  • Who Killed Santa? A Murderville Murder Mystery (Dec. 15)
  • The Recruit starring Noah Centineo (Dec. 16)
  • The Seven Deadly Sins: Grudge of Edinburgh part 1 (Dec. 20)
  • Emily in Paris season 3 (Dec. 21)
  • Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (Dec. 23)
  • Roald Dahl's Matilda The Musical (Dec. 25) 
  • The Witcher: Blood Origin prequel series (Dec. 25)
  • Treason miniseries with Daredevil star Charlie Cox (Dec. 26)
  • They Cloned Tyrone (Dec. 30)
sonic, knuckles and rouge standing next to each other in Sonic Prime

Sonic and his crew will go up against Doctor Eggman in Sonic Prime this December.

Netflix

HBO Max: Titans continues to dominate, and The White Lotus season finale airs on Dec. 11. New debuts include Gossip Girl season 2 (Dec. 1), His Dark Materials season 3 (Dec. 5), Doom Patrol season 4 (Dec. 8) and Martin: The Reunion Special (Dec. 16). HBO Max also has a winter/holiday streaming collection full of movies for the season. If you're only hooked on HBO Max for The White Lotus, drop the service after the finale.

Peacock: The streamer makes the cut this month if you have Peacock Premium. Hopefully, you were able to grab the deal for $1 per month for a premium subscription. It's where you can watch the World Cup in Spanish, Days of Our Lives, Hallmark's Christmas movie lineup, Bravo shows and everything in the Chicago franchise -- PD, Med and Fire. But this month, The Best Man: The Final Chapters premieres on Dec. 22 with all eight episodes. Fans of the movie series are sure to enjoy.

Disney Plus: After making its debut on Nov. 30, Willow is the main attraction on the platform in December. The show has eight episodes that will run through January, so you can stick it out or wait and binge it later. The Santa Clauses is still airing this month along with a huge selection of holiday content. Other than that, Disney Plus is pretty dry on new releases with the exception of the animated Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules (Dec. 2). For these reasons, this one straddles the fence between keep and cancel this month.

Cancel or skip these platforms unless you absolutely have to watch a show

Hulu: You can keep watching new episodes for shows like The Simpsons, Abbott Elementary, Chainsaw Man or The Cleaning Lady. But new arrivals are slim: Darby and the Dead film (Dec. 2), the Back in the Groove dating show (Dec. 5) and FX's Kindred, an adaptation of Octavia Butler's acclaimed novel (Dec. 13) are the standouts. If you received the deal for $2 per month for one year or you want to binge on holiday titles, don't cancel.   

Anime illustration of Denji as Chainsaw Man with bloody blades

Anime fans probably want to watch Denji's wild antics weekly on Hulu.

Tatsuki Fujimoto/MAPPA/Crunchyroll

Prime Video: We know you're probably getting this with your Prime subscription, but if not, cancel it. There's the NFL and a few other things to watch. The Peripheral's season finale drops on Dec. 2. As for new releases, here's a peek at premieres: Riches season 1 (Dec. 2), Three Pines season 1 (Dec. 2), Nanny (Dec. 16) and Jack Ryan season 3 (Dec. 21).

Apple TV Plus: The biggest arrival is Emancipation starring Will Smith, which streams on Dec. 9. If you choose to keep paying for this platform in December, you can also watch Spirited, Mythic Quest or A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Paramount Plus: New releases include the Yellowstone spinoff, 1923 (Dec. 18), The Game season 2 (Dec. 15) and Top Gun: Maverick (Dec. 22). If you're not interested in these titles, you can skip for now.

Starz: Cancel until next year when BMF returns. 

Save cash by waiting it out

If you're not someone who routinely gets FOMO, then a smart method is to wait until the bulk or all episodes of your favorite series arrive on a platform. That way, rather than pay for a service for several months to cover the six- to 10-week run of a show, you can catch up on everything by subscribing for one month. And then repeat the cycle again.

As an example, there are eight episodes of Willow in season 1. The finale airs in January, so all episodes will be available to stream at that time. Though it has a two-episode premiere on Nov. 30 and runs into 2023, why pay for three months of Disney Plus when you can wait to watch it in full anytime in January? The same method applies to the 12-episode run of Doom Patrol. You can binge it all in February. If one of these is the only series you want to watch during this period, it makes sense to be patient to save money. 

Actor Warwick Davis smiles and holds up a magic wand in a forest in fantasy TV series Willow.

Where there's a Willow, there's a Warwick Davis.

Lucasfilm

Calculate what you spend each month on streaming services. It's probably more than $50. Netflix is $10 to $20, Disney Plus is anywhere from $3 to $11 depending on bundles, HBO Max costs $10 to $15, Hulu starts at $8 and Starz runs $9. The others have a base rate of $5 per month. Should you decide to rotate, set a calendar alert to remind you when it's time to resubscribe or cancel. We'll see you in January for another streaming breakdown, and be sure to check out our recommendations on the best free VPNs and kids' Christmas movies.