In many ways, the digital age has made gift giving easier. You can fill up a single online shopping cart and send gifts anywhere in the world. At the same time, some things are not as easy as they used to be. Remember when you could just walk into a store and buy someone a DVD? Now there’s a good chance your intended recipient doesn’t have a DVD player. These days, 60% of TV and movies viewed in the U.S. are streamed online, and how do you gift a digital stream?
Here are some ways you can gift a streaming service or a digital film without hacking into your loved one’s account.
Gift cards to get them started
You can find gift cards for the larger streaming services at many department stores and pharmacies. Often they are hanging on a rack right next to the Starbucks and Best Buy gift cards. You can also purchase a gift card online for the streaming service of your choice. This is the easiest way to gift a streaming service to your friends and family.
Here are links to purchase gift subscriptions for the biggest streaming services:
- Netflix: Gift cards are sold in various dollar amounts from retailers and third-party sellers.
- Hulu: Gift cards are sold in various dollar amounts from retailers and third-party sellers.
- Disney+: Choosing to “gift a year” of membership to the streamer will run you $69.99 (new subscribers only).
- Amazon Prime: You can gift someone three months of Prime membership for $39, or a year for $119.
- CBS All-Access: Gift cards are sold in various dollar amounts from retailers and third-party sellers.
- The Criterion Channel: Gift the true cinema buff in your life a one-month subscription ($10.99) or a year-long membership ($99.99).
Note that some services, including HBO Max and Peacock, currently don’t offer an easy way to gift someone a subscription.
This is a gift that will keep your recipient entertained for months—or even a whole year—but there’s a downside: they will have to remember to cancel or they might be on the hook for the monthly fee once your gift runs out. It’s not always the case—unless they choose to link a credit card, those who sign up for Hulu via a gift card will actually see their accounts closed once the gifted amount has run out, preventing you from giving the gift of a monthly bill after the holidays.
Keeping an account going
Over 50% of U.S households subscribe to multiple streaming service subscriptions, meaning there is a good chance your giftee already has Disney+ and Netflix. In this case, consider giving the gift of a few free months, whether via a physical gift card or a digital one, that the receiver can redeem via their existing streaming account. On Netflix, for example, they’ll be able to navigate to their account settings and choose “Redeem gift card or promo code.”
Important tip: Some streaming services allow you to purchase gift cards directly, while Netflix and Google Play require you to purchase them from a third party like Amazon. Browse the service-specific links above to explore some options.
Gift a single movie or TV show
The only streaming service that allows you to give the gift of a single movie or television show is Apple TV. Gifts of movies and TV shows can only be completed using your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. Search the Apple store while logged in to your Apple account. Once you’ve selected the film, Apple support instructions state, “In the iTunes Store, tap the Share button, then tap Gift.” You can choose whether you want the individual to receive notification of the gift immediately by email, or you can schedule a time for the notice to be delivered.
Given all the headaches of digital copy protection and copyright laws, giving a digital film will never be as easy as wrapping up a DVD. For now, gift cards are the best way to give the gift of entertainment in the streaming age.