Skip to main content

Is Paramount Plus free with a cable subscription?

Paramount Plus on Roku
(Image credit:

Paramount Plus is a sibling service to CBS, as both fall under the larger Paramount company umbrella. One of the features of Paramount Plus is the ability for users to access their live local CBS stations, in addition to the streaming service's offerings of original series, classic movies and TV shows. But does that mean if you already subscribe to CBS through a traditional pay-TV cable subscription you can get Paramount Plus for free?

Paramount Plus was formerly CBS All Access. As the name implied, CBS All Access was all about things on CBS. And, indeed, CBS All Access allowed those with one of some three dozen cable or satellite services to log in with those services. If you subscribe to, say, YouTube TV, you could log in with your YouTube TV credentials. Same for Sling TV, FuboTV, AT&T TV and many others. Though you would only have access to a live stream of your local CBS affiliate and not the entire CBS All Access library.

So, does that ability now extend to Paramount Plus? Can you log in with an existing cable service and watch live sports or shows like Ghosts, NCIS and other CBS programming?

The answer is no, you cannot. Consumers must sign up for Paramount Plus with either its ad-supported Essential plan or its ad-free Premium plan to watch any of its content. However, the Essential plan doesn't have a live stream of your local CBS affiliate, for that you will need to be signed up for Premium; the lone exception is for certain live sports, including the NFL

You can always try before you buy, as there is a Paramount Plus free trial period of seven days available.

There are still ways though to use your cable subscription to watch CBS content without Paramount Plus.

How to stream CBS if you don't have a Paramount Plus account

Anyone with a pay-TV cable subscription or live TV streaming subscription that includes CBS can access new and past CBS content online through and the CBS app. You can login to these options with your cable subscription credentials.

The CBS app is available for download on the App Store, Google Play or Amazon. 

Here are the services with which you can access live streams of CBS:

  • Altice One
  • Armstrong
  • BendBroadband
  • Blue Ridge
  • Blue Stream
  • Breezeline
  • Buckeye Broadband
  • Consolidated
  • Cox
  • DirecTV
  • DirecTV Stream
  • Dish
  • Frontier
  • fuboTV
  • Grande Communications
  • Great Plains Communications
  • Hulu with Live TV
  • Mediacom
  • Optimum
  • Paul Bunyan Communications
  • RCN
  • Service Electric Broadband Cable
  • Service Electric Cable TV and Communications
  • Service Electric Cablevision
  • Spectrum
  • Suddenlink
  • TDS
  • Vast Broadband
  • Verizon
  • Volcano Vision, Inc.
  • WOW!
  • Wave Broadband
  • Xfinity
  • YouTube TV
  • Ziply Fiber
  • Zito Media

Or maybe you just need a VPN?

There is a world of incredible content on Paramount+. And while Paramount+ is expanding from the United States to  other countries worldwide, you might still find that it's unavailable in your part of the world. Too fix that, a VPN might well be the way to fix things.

A virtual private network routes all of your internet traffic through a specific set of servers in a specific country, effectively making it as though your computer were physically in that country as well. So if you're looking to watch the latest Star Trek series but needed to be in, say, the United States in order to do so, a VPN can make that happen without actually having to book a ticket somewhere.

The one catch? You need to be able to trust your VPN provider, because all of your network traffic — encrypted and unencrypted alike — will be going through it. For that, we've long been fans of ExpressVPN.

The best VPN for P...

ExpressVPN is one of the easiest and affordable ways to watch what you want from anywhere you want to watch it. Plus it'll help keep your network traffic away from any prying eyes on public networks, which is always a good thing.

And it's a great VPN to use if you want to ensure you can watch your Paramount+ subscription wherever you are in the world.

Michael Balderston is a DC-based entertainment and assistant managing editor for What to Watch, who has previously written about the TV and movies with TV Technology, Awards Circuit and regional publications. Spending most of his time watching new movies at the theater or classics on TCM, some of Michael's favorite movies include Casablanca, Moulin Rouge!, Silence of the Lambs, Children of Men, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and Star Wars. On the TV side he enjoys Peaky Blinders, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Saturday Night Live, Only Murders in the Building and is always up for a Seinfeld rerun.