A fan of streaming services? Sign up to a few and the monthly cost can add up to quite an alarming total, particularly if you’re on a budget.
Family plans can help you save a lot, though. These let you share a paid subscription with up to five other friends and family members, so the cost per person is cut dramatically.
Other services also let you share content, so for example you can hand over an ebook to a loved one just as you might do with a paperback.
Here are the family plans you should check out, particularly if you already use any of these services.
$13.99 / £9.99 / AU$17.99 per month
Netflix does not offer a distinct plan labeled for families, but the top price subscription does let more devices play from one account at the same time.
The $13.99 / £9.99 / AU$17.99 per month UHD subscription enables four concurrent streams, up from two in the $10.99 / £7.99 / AU$13.99 plan or one on the basic $7.99 / £5.99 / AU$9.99 service.
There’s currently no IP crackdown either, which would look at where you are streaming from to ensure you abide by the T&Cs. Officially, of course, the four streams should only come from the same household.
We know many people who share their Netflix passwords with parents, friends and partners. And, for now at least, you can get away with it.
$14.99 / £14.99 / AU$17.99 per month
Spotify’s family plan costs $14.99 / £14.99 / AU$17.99 per month, and lets up to six people stream music off the same paid account. Like most family deals, it operates under the premise that those people all live in the same house.
There’s no IP check here. That wouldn’t work when most of us use Spotify with our phones, with mobile data and any number of Wi-Fi networks. However, there is one thin veneer of protection for Spotify.
After signing up for Spotify Family, you invite people to join your virtual family of (up to) six. The addresses on their account need to be the same as your own, otherwise they won’t be able to join.
$12.99 / £7.99 / AU$6.99 per month
Digital services don’t get much more domestic than Amazon Prime. It’s $12.99 / £7.99 / AU$6.99 per month, or you can get it for $119 / £79 / AU$59 per year, which is a discount, but also more of a commitment.
You get free one or two-day delivery for all the bits and bobs you need at home, and Amazon Prime Video.
There’s no family plan, but Amazon does let you share certain benefits with a 'significant other', a handy Prime trick that will save you having to order everything from the one account.
Other things you can share include Prime Reading, the book borrowing service, and Prime Video.
To get this up and running you have to link your Amazon accounts as a 'household', which means sharing payment options, a method clearly added by the brand to make sure sharing is not abused.
$14.99 / £14.99 / AU$17.99 per month
Most music streaming services have similar family plans to those offered by Spotify. Apple Music’s is no exception, as it costs $14.99 / £14.99 / AU$17.99 per month and allows up to six people to benefit from unlimited music streaming.
The process is a little more involved than with Spotify, though, because Apple already has a family infrastructure in its software. You have to set up Family Sharing, and then invite their accounts if you don’t already have an iOS family unit established.
The last time we checked, the iTunes accounts need to be registered in the same country, or the sharing won’t work. However, Apple is not too focused on limiting who can share.
$14.99 / £14.99 / AU$17.99 per month
Deezer’s family plan is just like that of Spotify. You pay $14.99 / £14.99 / AU$17.99 instead of the standard $9.99 / £9.99 / AU$11.99, and can then use six concurrent streams rather than one.
It’s intended for “members of the same household” and Deezer says it reserves the right to ask you to prove this is the case. This is highly unlikely to happen at present.
Deezer offers a feature for the parents of younger children too. You can create 'Deezer Kids' profiles, where the library is filtered to make sure the kids won’t hear anything unsuitable for under-12s.
£4.99 per month (UK only)
DisneyLife is a family streaming service by definition. It is also one of the few paid streaming services available in the UK but not the US, and costs £4.99 per month.
Its fairly relaxed approach to devices lets you register it on 10 different phones, tablets or TVs. Add more and you’ll have to boot one of the others off. Four streams can be used at the same time, which is handy if you have a house full of tablets, and kids who don’t like to share a screen.
DisneyLife lets you watch over 450 Disney movies, more than 5,000 TV episodes and thousands of its often critically acclaimed shorts. Or a handful of Disney TV channels.
Use it on an Android or Apple phone or tablet and you can read Disney books and listen to soundtracks too. This is one of best lower-cost streaming services for families with young children.
However, support is a little limited. DisneyLife works on tablets and phones, but for the big-screen experience you need a recent Samsung smart TV, an Android TV, an Apple TV box, or an Amazon Fire TV box or stick.
From $14.95 / £7.99 / AU$16.45 per month
Amazon’s audiobook service Audible starts at $14.95 / AU$16.45 per month, or just £7.99 in the UK. That gets you a token per month, which unlocks an audiobook of your choice. Even all 98 hours of the bible, if you can stomach it: not bad value at all.
There’s no Audible family plan, but there is something just as good. This is part of Amazon’s digital infrastructure, and you can share audiobooks just as you can with ebooks. Head into the Manage Content area and you can select audiobooks to share with other family members.
This is a fantastic feature, particularly if you sometimes listen to audiobooks in the car with the family.
$17.99 / £17.99 / AU$22.99 per month
YouTube offers a couple of premium services. There’s YouTube Music and YouTube Premium. The former lets you stream music videos. Specifically, you can stream videos and music ad-free in YouTube and the YouTube Music app.
YouTube Premium removes the ads from all video streams, not just music videos, and unlocks access to YouTube Originals. This is a smaller-scale take on Netflix, with series including Rhett & Link’s Buddy System and Cobra Kai. As an individual it costs $11.99 / £11.99 / AU$14.99 per month.
But it's also available as a family plan, which raises the cost to $17.99 / £17.99 / AU$22.99 per month, but is a big saving if you get enough people to join your plan.
“A YouTube family plan allows you to share your YouTube paid membership with up to 5 other family members – aged 13 and older – living in the same household (residential address),” says Google.
If you want to fudge this by adding family members who have moved out, or friends, the tie to the address makes doing so more difficult. Your Google identity is more wide-reaching than that of a separate third-party account like Spotify.
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