Sunday, July 14, 2024
Apps

I found an iOS app that can help you save money on streaming


Key Takeaways

  • Rising streaming costs led to the need for an app like Seasons to manage subscriptions and save money.
  • Seasons helps track shows, services, costs, and offers recommendations for optimal subscription management.
  • The app’s algorithm balances show tracking, cost savings, and focusing on taming subscription costs for users.


While we haven’t quite reinvented the TV business of old, it’s hard to look at the rising costs of streaming services or the growing number of services to choose from, and not feel like something has gone wrong. The ballooning costs and complications of watching your favorite show have gotten so bad that there are even streaming bundles that give you multiple services for a lower price, not unlike an old school cable subscription.

You could, of course, stay subscribed to Disney+, Hulu, Max, and all the rest and pay for services you might not have watched for months, or you could cancel and resubscribe as needed. But keeping track of everything on your own requires, not only knowing what shows are streaming where and when, but also when you’re next going to be charged for your subscription service. That’s a lot of calendar events to keep tabs on.


Seasons, created by MYV Studios, attempts to do that hard work for you in one app. Not only by helping you track your favorite shows and the streaming services they’re on, or which services you subscribe to and how much they cost, but offering recommendations of when you should unsubscribe to save the most money. After talking to the developer who came up with the idea, Seasons is still in many ways a work in progress, but it’s a solution that couldn’t have arrived at a better time.

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Wrangling your streaming services in 2024

An iPhone 13 mini showing the Seasons app on a stack of Blu-rays.

The origin of Seasons might not be all that surprising. People often sign up for a streaming service because there’s a specific show that’s been made available to stream, and by the time they want to watch something different, it’ll usually be on another service. If you subscribe to those services each time, things get messy fast.


“I noticed how much I was spending for the subscriptions, and it had only been a month, and it’s like ‘okay, I’m spending almost £100 on these things, so there must be something I can do to decrease the cost,'” Matteo Comisso, the creator of Seasons at MYV Studios, tells me over Zoom. Comisso claims he wasn’t trying to reinvent the wheel with an app that managed and tracked streaming subscriptions, there just really wasn’t anything like it out there.

“I think the idea was to cover the questions about, ‘where can I find the content and when can I watch it?,'” Comisso says. “But also, ‘how can I spend the least amount of money as possible to optimize all these things?’” Seasons does all three, and without AI, Comisso took care to note. “The algorithm behind the scenes, it’s becoming a monster on its own. But it does the heavy lifting…it’s not really dependent on AI or anything.”


Comisso claims he wasn’t trying to reinvent the wheel with an app that managed and tracked streaming subscriptions, there just really wasn’t anything like it out there.

The algorithm at the heart of Seasons can approach taming your subscriptions in one of three ways. A balanced approach that tries to keep you on top of your shows while still saving money, a streaming-focused approach that prioritizes letting you see all your shows over worrying about subscriptions, and a cost-saving approach that’s willing to delay watching a show to focus on taming subscription costs. Comisso suggests how the algorithm performs will improve over time as he and his team address some “edge cases” that can skew recommendations. A version of the app for Android is also in the works.


Where Comisso and his team source the streaming service, information may also improve performance. Currently, Seasons’ catalog of shows is pulled from The Movie Database (TMDB) API, which uses metadata from JustWatch, a popular service for checking where a given piece of media is available to stream. The main problem with it is it often takes 24 hours for a new show to appear, leaving Seasons a little out of date. “We’re also in talks with other bigger, I would say, more reliable [providers] in terms of speed,” Comisso says. There are more than a few ways Seasons could improve in the next few weeks and months.

How Seasons works

A hand holding a phone running the Seasons app open to the My Seasons tab.

MYV Studios

Using it for the first time, even at this early stage, the basics are there, though. Setting up Seasons starts with picking which shows you like, from a mix of currently streaming and upcoming options across a variety of services, so Seasons can build out a basic schedule of when new episodes are available. You then manually add in the services you’re subscribed to, how much they cost, and whether you’re subscribed monthly or yearly to create the full picture of your streaming diet.


At that point, Seasons can give you recommendations as to when to cancel your subscriptions or when to resubscribe if you’re tracking a show that hasn’t aired yet. You can also dive into individual tabs if you’re just looking for a calendar of the shows you’re watching or planning to watch, information about your subscriptions, or want to search for more shows to add.

There’s a lot of information to poke through in Seasons, but the most striking to me is in the “My Seasons” home tab. At the top of the page is a simple number; specifically, a price. It’s the cost per day of your streaming habit. I’ve used finance and savings apps before, but it’s rare to be presented with the cost of your passion, nay, obsession with media so plainly. And mine was only a few cents per day! But it’s easy to see how if you didn’t cancel your streaming services, those cents could add up over time.


The app makes the most sense if you primarily subscribe to a streaming service for an ongoing series as opposed to a catalog of movies. In my short time using the app, I still see how it could be useful, and it’s not hard to imagine it being expanded to encompass other content subscriptions, like say Xbox Game Pass or PlayStation Plus. “The only thing that is limiting us right now is in terms of the team size, it’s literally just me and two other guys,” Comisso says. “But also the version right now is really here to validate the idea and then from there, see what the feedback is from users.”

An End to Streaming Fatigue

The horizontal schedule view in the Seasons app showing when subscriptions should end.

Seasons


By design, streaming companies don’t want you to cancel. There are whole programming and marketing strategies built around staggering releases and publishing trailers so that there’s always a reason to stay subscribed. I feel confident claiming that the fourth season of Netflix’s Stranger Things was broken into chunks because it meant fans would have to stay subscribed for another month. Seasons takes some finagling, but it seems like a useful tool for helping with the mess that is the current media landscape. And if it can save you some money in the process? That’s great, too.

Seasons

Developer
MYV Studios Ltd



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