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In January 2007, Netflix debuted its “Watch Now” feature. It began with about a thousand titles being made available to stream instantly and the standard Netflix subscription allowed for six hours a month. With Hulu’s launch nine months later, and YouTube’s launch in 2005, streaming video-on-demand (SVOD) was off and running.

Now, look where we are. More than 95.1 million people will get rid of cable in 2023, according to the market research company eMarketer. That’s around 36 percent of Americans.

It’s a streaming world we live in.

But access to prominent platforms can add up quickly. All the most popular shows are split between multiple streaming services. HBOMax. Showtime Anytime. Peacock. Amazon Prime. Between paying for tuition, textbooks and general costs of living, many students are strapped for cash. A collection of streaming subscriptions tacked onto monthly charges may not be the sweetest deal.

For those who can’t just take advantage of their parents’ on-demand library, there are ways to enjoy the wonderful world of streaming without running up your credit card bill. Here are some ways you can do this for cheap.

One immediate way is to take advantage of the student discounts.

Hulu offers a standard student deal for $1.99 a month, which includes commercials. That’s access to shows like “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Only Murders In The Building” for less than a cup of coffee at Starbucks. While this is independent, there are a few other bundles and deals that include Hulu.

Spotify Premium has a student deal that includes both Showtime and Hulu along with the ad-free Spotify experience. The cost is $4.99 a month, much cheaper than the standard price of about $27 a month. Hulu isn’t ad-free in this bundle, but the ad-free Spotify and Showtime make it well worth it. Showtime doesn’t have as many trendy shows as Hulu but its original content is elite, including “Your Honor” featuring esteemed actor Bryan Cranston.

Of course, Apple has a rival deal. An Apple Music subscription comes with free access to AppleTV Plus and costs students just $5.99 a month. A strong case could be made AppleTV is underrated. Heard of “Ted Lasso”? It won back-to-back Emmys for Best Outstanding Comedy Series. That’s an Apple Show. Another great one is “The Morning Show” which features a star-studded cast including Jennifer Anniston, Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carrell. This show alone makes AppleTV Plus worth the first month.

Apple or Spotify? Hulu and Showtime or AppleTV Plus? These are tough calls. But with these student discounts, both only cost $11 a month.

For those who prefer more personalized content, YouTube Premium offers a student discount of $6.99 a month, $5 cheaper than normal. It gets you access to YouTube Music and no ads. That’s right — no ads. Also, don’t sleep on YouTube Originals’ catalog. 

If you like Prime Video, Amazon offers six months free if you enroll in Prime Student. After that, the cost is $7.49 a month — 50 percent off for as long as you’re a student — for access to Amazon’s TV shows and movies. Viacom-owned Paramount+ offers a student discount of $3.74 a month. It’s a limited plan but offers MTV, Comedy Central and CBS titles.

The only thing better than some of these student discount options is the best price point of all. Free. There are multiple streaming services that are completely free. No monthly subscription. No buy-this-to-get-that strings attached. The only catch is that you have to watch ads. A small, though irritating, price to pay for no price.

Roku Channel, Pluto TV, Tubi, Crackle, Sling Freestream, Xumo, even Peacock — there is no shortage of options. Amazon’s Freevee is known for having the best selection of free content among all of the free options. Vudu specializes in free access to popular movies, usually titles that aren’t currently trending. But they’re great sources you can utilize to brush up on more niche entertainment.

Students have another free option under the guise of educational streaming. Kanopy isn’t exactly a mainstream source of entertainment but it’s well known for an extensive library of documentaries, classic cinema and indie films. The platform partners with over 4,000 public and academic libraries. It features award-winners such as  “Ladybird” and “Parasite.” As long as you are a member or have a card to one of these libraries, you are all set up to stream. Las Positas is one of the many. All you need is your W number for access.

Some of the bigger platforms like HBOMax and Netflix don’t have student discounts.

Fortunately, these options provide more wiggle room in your budget and still offer comparable content to those two platforms. Hulu, AppleTV and Showtime are distinguished in their own way, and they also keep students in mind. 

There are great deals for those who love music included. From Apple Music and Spotify to Youtube Music, you can dominate both the music and streaming worlds. Even free platforms can provide you with entertainment away from the grind and hustle of academia.

As you know, there is no Netflix discount. But there is a way to get it for cheaper than the $19.99 a month fee. First, take advantage of NordVPN’s student discount of $2.80 a month. Once you do that, get access to Netflix in other countries. Netflix in Brazil is nearly half the price.

All of these will give you the opportunity to grow your own on-demand library. Better yet, for cheap prices. There’s no better time to utilize these deals.

Georgia Whiting is the managing editor and photo editor for the Express.

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