Paramount+ Review: ViacomCBS Launches New TV Streaming Service

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Paramount+ is a video streaming service from ViacomCBS that launched for all users in March 2021.

And if it looks familiar to you, that’s because it is a rebranded version of the now-defunct CBS All Access streaming platform.

Paramount+ features on-demand content from major brands including CBS, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon as well as original and live content options.

Money expert Clark Howard is a subscriber to this one, as his family enjoys the original Star Trek content offered exclusively on the platform.

But are flexible tiers of pricing and big-name brands enough to hook you in what is an increasingly competitive streaming TV market?

For this review, I downloaded the app on my personal devices and subscribed to the service to find answers to help you decide.



What Is Paramount+?

Paramount+ is a subscription streaming service that features both on-demand and live streaming options.

This service is offered by ViacomCBS and features content from CBS, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, BET, MTV, VH1 and more.

Paramount+ also has content created specifically for the service including a couple of popular Star Trek series. Several of the titles exclusive to the service are carryovers from CBS All Access.


How Can I Get Paramount+?

Paramount+ launched on March 4, 2021, and is available for subscription in the United States.

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Here are the key details you’ll need to know in order to get the most bang for your buck if you subscribe to the new service.

Pricing Details

The first decision you’ll have to make is whether or not you’re willing to endure some advertisements with your paid subscription.

If you want the ad-free experience, you can have it. But it will cost ya.

Here’s how the pricing works:

Type of SubscriptionMonthly Subscription FeeAnnual Subscription Fee
Essential Plan (with ads)$4.99$49.99
Premium Plan (ad-free)$9.99$99.99

Note that you’ll be required to pay the full annual subscription fee upfront to get that discounted price.

Prior to launch, Paramount+ offered a 50% discount presale on annual subscriptions to get the ball rolling.

Clark took advantage of that opportunity to get the commercial-free package for just $49.99 his first year, while I settled on a year of the package with ads for just $29.99.

Those specific offers are no longer valid, but it’s worth noting in case similar promotions come up again.

Free Trial Promotion

At launch, Paramount+ offered new users a free month of service to try things out. However, that original offer had an expiration date of March 31, 2021, so your mileage may vary.

If you don’t get in on the month-long offer, you should still be able to get a seven-day trial period to use the service before your credit card is charged.

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Free trials are a streaming industry standard, with many competitors settling on the seven-day free trial as an adequate length of time to hook consumers.

Student Discount

Active students are eligible for a 25% discount on your subscription plan of choice.

But be prepared: I clicked through to check in on this option and found that ViacomCBS will verify that you’re actually a student before granting the discount.

You’ll be asked to provide your university information and email address.

Paramount+ offers a student discount
Paramount+ screenshot

Devices

You can access Paramount+ from the following devices:

  • Android app
  • iOS app (Apple iPhone and iPad)
  • Apple TV
  • Google Chromecast
  • Amazon Fire TV
  • LG
  • PlayStation
  • XBox
  • Roku
  • Samsung
  • Vizio
  • Xfinity Flex

You can have three simultaneous streams going on one account.

For the purposes of this review, I used the service on the Android and iOS apps as well as my Chromecast with Google TV.


What TV Series and Movies Are on Paramount+?

Paramount+ offers thousands of hours of on-demand streaming options from the libraries of several popular television stations.

Here’s a small sampling of some of the popular content available:

CBS

  • NCIS
  • Survivor
  • Blue Bloods
  • Big Brother
  • 60 Minutes

You’ll also get access to CBS daytime favorites like The Price is Right and The Young and the Restless.

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BET

  • The Game
  • Real Husbands of Hollywood
  • Being Mary Jane
  • Single Ladies
  • Everybody Hates Chris

Comedy Central

  • Reno 911!
  • Chapelle’s Show
  • The Daily Show
  • Tosh.0
  • Key and Peele

MTV

  • Teen Mom series
  • The Challenge
  • The Real World series
  • Beavis and Butt-Head
  • Jersey Shore

Nickelodeon

  • SpongeBob Square Pants
  • Blue’s Clues
  • iCarly
  • Paw Patrol
  • Peppa Pig

Smithsonian Channel

  • America’s Hidden Stories
  • Aerial America
  • Secrets Unlocked
  • Mystery Files
  • Catching Killers

Movies

An underrated part of this service is access to the Paramount film library. Paramount, of course, has been a major motion picture producer for many years.

You’ll get streaming access to some of the following popular films:

  • The Godfather trilogy
  • Indiana Jones series
  • Mission Impossible series
  • Grease
  • Tommy Boy

Original Content on Paramount+

You’re not just getting on-demand access to shows from other networks on this streaming service. You’re also getting content that is created just for subscribers.

Here’s a quick run down of what you can expect:

Exclusive Series

At launch, I counted at least 20 content series that were tagged as Paramount+ originals.

Some samples of that content include:

  • Kamp Koral: SpongeBob’s Under Years
  • MTV’s The Real World: Homecoming
  • Star Trek: Discovery
  • Star Trek: Picard
  • The Good Fight: What Is Memo 618
  • The Twilight Zone
  • Tooning Out The News

Live Television

There is a tab on the streaming menu that is devoted to live streaming content from ViacomCBS.

For many people, the most important piece of information I can give you about this is that you’ll gain access to your local CBS affiliate here. That means local news, ball games and more.

Here’s the full menu of options I found on the live TV portion of the service:

  • Local CBS affiliate (Premium plan only for new subscribers)
  • CBS News
  • CBS Sports HQ
  • ET Live
  • UEFA Champions League soccer
  • UEFA Europa soccer

Paramount+ also teases access to major sporting events that air on CBS, such as The Masters, the NCAA men’s basketball tournament and NFL games.

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User Experience With Paramount+

For this review, I used the new Chromecast with Google TV that I recently reviewed for Team Clark as my streaming device of choice.

I also played around with the apps on both my Android phone and iOS tablet to ensure the experiences were similar.

What I found is a very straightforward and easy-to-use product. There are very few surprises in the way that you navigate this menu. (That’s a good thing!)

As you’ll notice in the image above, you’re basically dealing with a horizontal menu, vertical menu and content tiles.

The horizontal menu is going to help you sort things by product brand.

The vertical menu allows you to narrow things down by type of content (TV show, movie, live TV, original series, etc.). It also gives you quick access to the home screen, search bar and your account details.

How Bad Are the Ads?

Paramount+ subjects some users to commercials

If you opt for the cheaper subscription model, you’re going to be dealing with advertisements on most of the content that you watch.

This comes in the form of timed commercials that are embedded into the content that you’re watching. You’re unable to skip these.

These commercials range between 15 seconds and 90 seconds in length. I encountered two or three per 30-minute episode, while the hour-long episodes brought on four or five commercial breaks.

If you pause your show, you can clearly see the upcoming commercial breaks marked on the progress bar of your content.

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The ads themselves were pretty easy to digest. Major brands, such as a Geico, are featured often. It’s the same type of advertising you’d expect to see on the over-the-air broadcasts for these networks.


Final Thoughts on Paramount+

Throw another new streaming service onto the growing pile of options, right?

Paramount+ is going to draw some groans from streamers who are tired of being nickeled and dimed to watch their favorite shows, but this one may actually be worth the price of admission.

With plenty of brand-name ViacomCBS content, original series and a smattering of live sports and television, you’re actually getting quite a bit of entertainment for $6 per month.

The streaming service I would most compare this one to is NBC’s Peacock, which offers a similar product mix and pricing structure. Pairing those together would give you quite the library of options for around $11 per month.

That’s cheaper than Netflix and still beats paying for cable!

Will you be looking to add Paramount+ to your streaming subscriptions? Let us know what you think in the comments below! 


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