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The Margin: Paying less than $20 to rent ‘Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour’ on her birthday is a steal

Wednesday is Taylor Swift’s 34th birthday — and her fans are fulfilling their wildest dreams of being able to stream the “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” movie by renting it through a number of streaming services for less than $20. 

But some people have complained on social media that the $19.89 price for a 48-hour rental on platforms including Apple TV, Vudu, Amazon, Google Play and YouTube — a nod to Swift’s birth year and fifth studio album — is “ridiculous” or “insane.” The Daily Mail, for example, cited fans posting on X, formerly known as Twitter, that “we are in a cost of living crisis babe,” and dropping $20 to rent the movie, and not even own it, is “mental.” 

To be sure, a few people fuming online about the cost of movie night at home (Taylor’s Version) is not a fair representation of how Swifties at large feel about being able to stream — and pause, and replay — the Eras Tour from the comfort of their couches. But for those who do think this is too expensive, let’s take a quick minute to see how renting a concert film for $19.89 compares to the other ways one would have to pay to watch the powerhouse performer who made the MarketWatch 50 list of most influential people in markets, as well as a little something called Time’s person of the year

Read more: Taylor Swift is Time’s person of the year. Here’s why she’s also been a big financial story in 2023.

And: The Taylor Swift stock-market effect? We are convinced.

First of all, dropping about $20 to rent a new movie when it first becomes available for streaming is the norm. What’s more, this is actually less than the typical going rate for an especially buzzworthy release. When “Barbie” first hit streaming platforms in September, for example, it cost $25 to rent on Amazon.

Second, you don’t have to pay $19.89 per person to rent the Eras Tour concert film — the way seeing it in theaters cost $19.89 per adult, and $13.13 for children and seniors, before any additional fees. You and your friends can all kick in toward the $20 overall rental fee, and five people having a Taylor Swift viewing party would pay just $4 apiece to enjoy the film. You can spend as much or as little as you want on your own snacks and drinks.

Compare that to catching this in the movie theater, where you each had to drop $20 a pop, not to mention coughing up the high markups theaters usually add to soda and popcorn. And you can’t enjoy the luxuries of home viewing, like pausing or rewinding, in a movie theater. 

Third, catching the Eras Tour on your home screen for $19.89 is a steal compared to the hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars that concertgoers have reported paying to see the show in person. To be fair, you can argue that it’s hard to put a price on an incredible live experience like that — which is why many Swifties told MarketWatch that they saw going to her shows as a worthwhile investment. But how close were these high-paying attendees to the stage? How much could they actually see? One benefit of streaming at home for just $20, versus trying to catch Swift in a huge arena or a packed movie theater: You’ve got the best seat in the house — your house — with a front-row view of Swift’s showstopping performance. 

But hey: If $19.89 feels a bit steep to just rent the movie right now, and you’d rather wait to buy the movie outright, that is totally understandable. Just be patient. Or wait a month or two for when the “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” rental inevitably drops to a fraction of its current price, the norm for most movies that have been out awhile. In fact, it’s only a matter of time before the concert flick becomes available on one of the major streaming services for free, as part of the overall subscription price. 

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