Previously known as CBS All Access when it first started back in 2014, Paramount+ has since become one of the most exciting streaming platforms on the scene in recent years. Standing out for its interesting original programming, including new series of major franchises like Star Trek and revivals of old classics like Frasier, along with bold new releases like Halo, there's lots to love about this platform. Is Paramount+ worth subscribing to? Find out with our in-depth Paramount+ review.
Why we're reviewing Paramount+
Even though CBS All Access launched back in 2014, Paramount+ is its own entity, and it’s still a relatively new streaming platform that many people are interested to know more about. You might be on the fence about whether or not Paramount+ is right for you, or you might want to know more about how this streaming service works and what sort of exclusives it has to offer. Our Paramount+ review aims to tell you all you need to know.
What is Paramount+?
Paramount+ started life as CBS All Access. This was a live streaming service made to offer live CBS programming and access to an on-demand library of CBS shows from years gone by. It started off small, but it began to expand in 2016 with new shows like Star Trek: Discovery.
Then, in 2019, when CBS merged with Viacom to make VicomCBS (which later became Paramount Global), plans were put in place for an expansion of the service. All new content from Viacom Media Networks brands like Comedy Central and MTV was set to be integrated into the CBS All Access service. And since it was changing so much, it was also decided that the service should be rebranded and relaunched with a new name: Paramount+.
In March of 2021, this rebranding was put into action and since then, Paramount+ has become a major player not only in the US streaming scene, but elsewhere around the world, with launches in Latin America, Europe, and parts of Asia, too.
Not only does this streaming service boast a huge range of content from different studios, as well as its own original programming, but it also has digital premieres of major movie releases from Paramount Pictures, with the likes of Scream and Top Gun: Maverick hitting the service in recent times just 45 days after their theatrical releases. This has helped Paramount+ attract over 40 million subscribers, according to the latest counts.
Our 60 second summary of Paramount+
It's easy to write Paramount+ off as just one more OTT streaming service you don't need. But if you're a fan of some of the original content the service is producing and the content it owns in its CBS and Paramount Pictures catalog, it makes a very compelling case to sign up. Combined with a comparatively low-cost entry price, and you'll find the service may be one to add to your (probably too large) library of streaming services.
What we really like about this service is its variety. Not only are you getting a great range of shows like dramas, comedies, and thrillers, but there's also family-friendly content, new movie releases, and even live sports, including NFL games and UEFA Champions League soccer matches, as well as live local news through local CBS stations. That’s a lot of diverse content for a very affordable monthly fee.
The pros and cons of Paramount+
There's a good chance you'll love Paramount+ for its content alone. There's also a chance you'll find some things to strongly dislike about the service.
- Low-cost options. You can get Paramount+ for just $4.99 per month.
- Large content library. Paramount+ has tens of thousands of TV episodes and thousands of movies, too
- Live TV and sports. As of 2022, its live TV content was massively expanded to now include local CBS broadcasts, sports, and news
- A huge draw for original content. Obtaining the rights to Star Trek, Twilight Zone, and Paramount Pictures were huge boons for this service
- Wide app library. Considering some other services lack much device support, the Paramount+ app library is attractive
- Discount for students. It's unusual for a streaming service to offer demographic-specific discounts, but you can get a 25% discount if you're a student at a Title IV institution
- Too much buffering. The streaming experience through Paramount+ can be a pain with so much buffering for on-demand and live content
- Too many ads. If you opt for the "limited commercials" plan at $4.99, you'll start wondering just how they're defining "limited".
The plans and pricing of Paramount+
CBS provides two subscription tiers to its streaming service:
- $4.99/month with ads
- $9.99/month without ads
- $99/year without ads
Paramount+ Limited Commercials - For $4.99 per month, ads appear at the beginning of each on-demand TV stream and several times during the stream. This place gives you access to everything within the Paramount+ library, including live TV.
Paramount+ Commercial Free - CBS removes the advertising from all but “select” on-demand TV video streams at its $9.99 per month premium level. Alternatively, you can get this plan for $99 per year, netting you a small cost savings.
Note: If you want offline viewing, you'll need to sign up for the Commercial Free tier.
In both cases, live local streams have all of the ads from the regular over-the-air broadcast. The annual subscription gives you a $20 per year discount. The service also offers a 25% discount for students, which can be verified if you have a .edu email address from a Title IV institution.
The stream quality of Paramount+
The streaming quality through Paramount+ is often good, but can be inconsistent, depending on your internet connection. We have experienced some drops in bitrate and long load times on this service on some occasions, but if you have a strong and stable connection, you may not have the same issues.
In terms of general quality, Paramount+ supports streaming in up to 4K quality for some of its movies and shows, and full HD for everything else. So the quality of the shows and films you watch on this service is good enough to rival any other streaming platform out there, but you will need a strong internet connection to get the most consistent and smooth playback.
Mixed Live Streaming Support
Paramount+ has a large amount of live TV, especially after the 2021 rebrand. Previously, the only live TV available was local CBS broadcasts. Those broadcasts offer a low-cost option to get CBS without cable and without having to purchase over-the-air digital antennas for your TVs.
There is some problem with live CBS streams not available in every market. The problem is that CBS only owns sixteen of the local affiliate stations. The other stations are independently owned, with their own contracts for local programming and reruns. Those contracts may have been written years ago before streaming content was a thing. The local stations have to renegotiate those contracts and get their suppliers' approval before Paramount+ can carry the local stream.
In the meantime, subscribers in those black-out markets still get the latest episodes on-demand. They won’t get local news or weather, but the bigger issue is sports. CBS only streams sports through the local live feed. No local stream, no football.
Device support on Paramount+
ViacomCBS put a lot of work into making Paramount+ available on pretty much any device you want. A key method to do this is by making the service available through Amazon Prime Channels and Apple TV Channels. Both are streamlined options that provide multiple services with one interface. That said, there are numerous standalone apps available for most devices you might want to use.
You can use Paramount+ with all of the following devices:
- TV streaming media players: Apple TV (2nd gen and up), Android TV (all gens), Amazon Fire devices (all gens), Chromecast (2nd gen and up) and Roku TV, Vizio Smart TV (select models)
- Smart TVs: Amazon Fire TV (all gens), Android TV (Sony Bravia, miBox, and select models), Samsung TV (select models), and Roku (firmware 8.0 and up).
- Mobile devices and tablets: Android OS, iOS, and Windows 10 (tablets)
- Game consoles: Xbox One and PlayStation 4
- Desktop browsers: Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Microsoft Edge are recommended (most recent versions will work)
- Smart home devices: Amazon Alexa (voice controls only), Google Home (voice controls only)
Paramount+ on Roku
The Paramount+ app is available through the Roku Channels Store. The app will work on most Roku versions, including Roku TV and Roku LT. The app has a 3.2 out of 5 stars in the Roku Channels Store.
Paramount+ on Fire TV Stick
You can download the Paramount+ app on Amazon Fire TV devices. The app has a 3.9 out of 5 stars on the Amazon Fire TV App Store. The top-rated review sums up what we’ve already said about the app: “Very effective - Highly annoying”. That said, most reviews and especially most negative reviews are over two years old. ESPN has fixed many issues with the app since then.
Paramount+ on Apple TV
The Paramount+ app is available for the Apple TV. The app will work on Apple TV 2nd Generation and above.
Paramount+ on iPhones and iPads
If you have a device running iOS 11 or higher, you can install the Paramount+ app. The app has a 4.5 out of 5 rating on iTunes, but it also has a large number of recent negative reviews. Users have been complaining about poor functionality with the app, including freezing videos and videos that don't load properly.
Paramount+ on Android Phones and Tablets
You can use Paramount+ on devices running Android 5.0 or above. The app is available through Google Play, but it has a rather abysmal 2 out of 5 stars. Most reviews are consistent about a poor-quality streaming experience through the app.
What's on Paramount+?
Paramount+ is not just an on-demand streaming service. You'll get live TV based on your zip code, as well as live TV from CBS News, CBS Sports HQ, and ET Live. For example, if you're located in cities like Memphis, Oklahoma City, or Colorado Springs, Paramount+ would offer the live stream for its local CBS station to you through its streaming service.
However, you can easily access live TV schedules for CBS using our Flixed TV Guides. Either access the local TV guide for your city, or the national broadcast schedule for CBS. Our TV guide improves on the TV guide option you'll find with Paramount+, which doesn't a description of the programs you're interested in viewing. You can also use the Flixed TV Guide on any device with a web browser.
The streaming library of Paramount+
One of the big make-or-break factors of any streaming service is its on-demand content library. So, what can you actually watch on Paramount+ and is it worth the subscription fee? Well, as stated earlier in our review, there's a lot of variety on this platform, and it includes tens of thousands of TV episodes and lots of movies, too.
One of the big selling points of the platform is its sci-fi content. Paramount+ has the rights to Star Trek, so you can watch some super new Star Trek shows on this service, including Star Trek: Strange New Worlds and Star Trek: Picard, as well as Star Trek: Discovery and all of the old, original series, too.
If you prefer your sci-fi with even more explosions and bombastic flair, one of the platform's biggest releases so far is Halo, based on the action video game of the same name. But there's much more to Paramount+ than aliens and outer space. The platform also has more grounded shows like The Good Fight, British comedies like Ghosts, westerns like 1883, and animated fun like Beavis and Butt-Head.
There’s also lots of great kids’ content on Paramount+, including SpongeBob SquarePants and Rugrats, as well as classic reality shows like every single season of Survivor. Other classic shows like Hawaii Five-O, The Brady Bunch, and Cheers are all available on this platform, and there are plenty of plans in place for even more exciting, original content to arrive in the future.
For the on-demand side of things, CBS takes a light approach with ads. Movies-watchers don’t see them, but subscribers at the “Limited Commercial” level will get ads during on-demand TV episodes. A sixty-second commercial leads off every stream.
More ads will run during the show. Five ninety-second ad breaks appear during each one-hour episode. Once the ads start running, you lose the ability to fast forward. CBS removes most of the ads for subscribers at the “Commercial Free” level, although they reserve the right to include promotional spots during “select” programs.
The DVR of Paramount+
This service comes with a lot of content on-demand, but no cloud DVR option. You cannot record any shows, but most live TV episodes (including some sports) will be available after they air.
Offline viewing on Paramount+
While there's no DVR, Paramount+ does provide an offline viewing option. Only available to Commercial Free subscribers (the $9.99/month or $99/year subscription level), you can download and play on-demand TV show episodes and movies.
- Offline viewing is only available for iPhones, iPads, Android phones, and Android tablets
- Offline viewing does not work for iOS 9.0 or below, or Android 4.4 or below
- You're limited to 25 video downloads
- Downloaded videos expire after 30 days
- There is no download option for live TV
All told, that's fairly restrictive, but not entirely uncommon, either.
Customer support for Paramount+
If you're having problems with your Paramount+ service, your starting point will be the knowledge base. Paramount+ has an extensive number of articles covering some common troubleshooting issues. The knowledge base is searchable, but also has categories you can choose from.
If you can't find your answer there, CBS offers customers support through email, live chat, or social media chats from Facebook or Twitter. The live chat is usually very responsive and the fastest way to get help with whatever you need.
How to cancel Paramount+
Some subscribers using Paramount+ apps have complained about an inability to cancel. For best results, you need to use cancel through a web browser. You can cancel Paramount+ in 5 steps:
- Log in to Paramount+ s and go to "Account"
- Click on "Cancel Subscription" under the "Subscription & Billing" section
- Either select to get 1 more free month, or select "No Thanks"
- Check the "I understand..." box in the pop-up, and then select "Yes, cancel my subscription"
- Select a reason for canceling, then select "Complete Cancellation"
The refund policy of Paramount+
Paramount+ does not offer a refund on your service. You can, however, continue to use the service for the remainder of the paid-for period. That includes those who opted for the yearlong subscription.
However, CBS does state in its refund policy that it might provide refunds in rare circumstances but doesn't state what circumstances may necessitate that.
Our final word on Paramount+
Overall, Paramount+ is turning into one of the best streaming services to consider in terms of diverse content and value for money. It’s a great choice for families who want to have access to a huge range of shows, from the latest sci-fi hits to kid-friendly animation and great movies, too, not to mention the live sport and news access, too. There are a few issues and this platform doesn’t quite boast the same massive lineup of amazing originals as some of the others out there just yet, but it’s a very promising platform that should have a bright future ahead of it.
Sam Cook • Author
Sam Cook is a full-time content strategist by day, a part-time freelance content writer since 2015. In another life, he was a high school English teacher for nearly a decade. Based in sunny New Orleans, he writes long-form educational content on technology, including Insurtech, Fintech, HRtech, and content streaming.
Lisa Holden • Editor
Lisa Holden is an editor and creative based in Houston, TX. Lisa holds a BA in African-American Studies from Temple University and has spent her career working in news publications and magazines, even founding a magazine herself. She began working as an editor for Flixed in 2023. When she’s not editing or working on one of her many creative endeavors (whenever that is), she enjoys traveling to new places and biking on sunny days.