CBS All Access is no more and in its place has emerged Paramount +, the latest service to launch into the streaming fray as a paid subscription offer. But Paramount + also comes at a difficult time for smaller services, competing, whether they admit it or not, against much bigger giants like Disney + and Netflix. So where does Paramount + fit in and is it worth it?
That likely depends on the individual viewer’s perception of value, which in many ways is the same question to ask of all paid content services. But especially with regard to Paramount +, you are entering a space that is already packed with services that satisfy almost all niche interests. It also decided to launch without an ad-supported free tier, which may have helped attract insecure subscribers that NBCUniversal executives chose to include on the rival service. Peacock at launch. For existing CBS All Access customers, perhaps fans of CBS’s broadcast programming or their huge treasure trove of Star Trek content—The value in Paramount + can be more contained for the same price. For everyone else, though, I wonder if the fanfare will be enough to lure them into a new service and potentially alienate them from the ones they already enjoy.
First, let’s clarify what Paramount + really is. This new streaming service is basically CBS All Access plus more from ViacomCBS. After a 30-day free trial, it will cost $ 10 per month for a premium tier that removes ads from on-demand titles but not linear broadcast, plus additional live sports and live news coverage from CBS. In June, Paramount + will introduce a reduced tier with advertising for $ 5 per month. Confusingly, at launch, pricing will remain the same as for CBS All Access with a $ 6 plan that includes limited commercials. That option will no longer be available when the new tier is released in June; however, existing CBS All Access subscribers who have been grandfathered can remain on that plan if they choose.
On Paramount +, you will find content hubs for BET, CBS, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, and the Smithsonian Channel, although content from these channels originally appeared on CBS All Access last year. The company also began to expand its child-centered content late 2020 with more Nick Jr. stuff and new features. In other words, CBS All Access had been building many of the foundations for Paramount + prior to its launch. New and specific to the service at launch are its originals, five included 60 minutes +, For the love of God, Kamp Koral: SpongeBob under the years, Homecoming in the real world: New York, Y SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run—As well as an expanded library of episodes of hit series and movies that include The Aviator, Mind hunters, Mission Impossible movies, and Gone Baby Gone.
Paramount + definitely feels like a whole for ViacomCBS assets rather than a single, cohesive product with a strong identity. The service describes itself as a “premium entertainment home for the whole family,” but the collection of channels here, much like the ones put together to create HBO Max“It feels a little strange.” Make no mistake: there is a lot to see. The service has more than 30,000 show episodes and dozens of movies to stream at launch. But it wasn’t clear to me who this product is really trying to serve, just that it has more to it than CBS All Access.
The organization of these brands in the service also felt a bit strange, although I found that the mobile experience was easier to navigate than Paramount + on the desktop. All of your content hubs appear in a row below a featured featured content carousel. At the top of the page, you will find tabs for shows, movies, live TV, “brands” and news. Like Netflix and other services, you’ll find categories on the home page for things like Recommended Shows For You, Keep Watching, Trending, and Originals, among others. But clicking through individual “brand” pages feels like a game of chance – everything appears as a single title catalog. On the show and movie pages, at least, the navigation is arranged alphabetically.
The service may introduce more subcategories of content within these brand pages as you modify your product, but as of launch day, it seemed like you better know exactly what you were looking for or be ready to scroll through many. titles to find it. something to look at. Navigating this service is made more difficult by the absence of a formal watchlist, which could have helped users navigate content more easily by bookmarking interesting titles as they navigated.
At launch, Paramount + is available on desktop, iOS and Android, Android TV, Apple TV, Apple TV channels, Chromecast, Facebook Portal, Fire TV, LG Smart TV, PlayStation 4, Prime Video Channels, Roku, Samsung TV, Vizio Smartcast TV and Xbox devices. The service is “coming soon” to PlayStation 5, a spokesperson confirmed to Gizmodo. Paramount + will offer up to six user profiles, but will be limited to three simultaneous streams. The service advertised that some series and movies were available in 4K, HDR and Dolby Vision, but a spokesperson told Gizmodo that content is limited to Paramount + originals and some content from the Smithsonian Channel.
Presumably, as the service continues to grow, it will bring more on the table for people who were already indifferent to CBS All Access. Two of the most important releases of this year, A quiet place, part II Y Mission: Impossible 7, will go to the service at month and a half after leaving theaters, which could be a potential draw for new subscribers. Paramount + will also be home to all UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League matches and will include coverage of this year’s NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship. Thirty-six exclusive originals will hit the service in 2021, another potential draw for subscribers when they debut.
But as of launch day, Paramount + feels a bit nondescript compared to its streaming peers. Perhaps this is less ViacomCBS’s fault, as it is a product of the myriad of services we now have to choose from, and Paramount + was a little late to the party. Again, I believe this service is of absolute value to longtime fans of CBS programming, particularly those whose households include children. But unless you bring more shiny new offers to the table, Paramount + may have trouble convincing new subscribers that it can be great.