Subscription Tracking

My brother in law Jerry is working on a project to collect all of his family’s digital subscriptions; subscriptions to streaming video services, music services, subscriptions to online news and other publications, subscriptions to software services, subscriptions to education services, etc, etc. He is planning a dinner in which he will review all of them with his family and understand which ones they are using and which ones they are not using. Then he can prune the list.

I am sure this isn’t something only Jerry wants. With the explosion of online subscription services, we all have been collecting a plethora of subscriptions and many of us are wondering how much we are spending on them and if we are using all of them.

I asked a few of my partners if they have seen companies working on this problem. What I got back is there are a few financial management packages like Truebill and Trim that offer this feature. And there is a service called Bobby that focused on managing subscriptions.

I am curious about a few things about this category of services:

  • Do we want this subscription tracking functionality bundled in our financial management software or do we want it broken out as an independent app that can integrate into our financial management software? I suspect the answer is the latter.
  • Do we want to use different subscription trackers for the various categories or do we want to use one for all of them? I can imagine a video subscription tracker being an app on our AppleTV that allows us to measure usage. It could be that you can improve utility by making trackers by application sector.
  • How do the developers of these subscription trackers make sure they get all of the subscriptions? Some of our family’s subscriptions are direct debit, some are on one or more credit cards, some are via Apple, some are via Amazon, etc, etc.

As digital services have evolved from free and advertising supported to subscription-supported over the last decade, we are collectively spending billions on digital subscriptions and we need tools to properly manage that spend.

The tools that find their way into this space between us and our subscriptions can become quite strategic over time.

I am curious to hear if the AVC community has experience with products and services in this category and thoughts about the questions I posed about it.