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Paramount Plus Review: Moving mountains

The streaming service formerly known as CBS All Access goes global, and has the content to back it up.

Paramount Plus logo on a TV
(Image: © WhatToWatch.com)

Our Verdict

Yes, Paramount is yet another streaming service. But with hit shows and movies, along with live sports, the NFL and new originals, it's very likely a must-subscribe streaming service.

For

  • 🏔 So much content from the greater ViacomCBS and Paramount worlds.
  • 🏔 Live sports, including international soccer, the NFL and more.
  • 🏔 Will be available outside the United States, too.

Against

  • 🌋 Almost too much content for its own good — could use better organization.

Paramount+ is a streaming service amid a sea of streaming services. There's no denying that. It began its life as CBS All Access and in March 2021 became something much more. 

An amalgamation of the brands that fall under the ViacomCBS umbrella — which includes Paramount, thus the name — you'll not just find the same content you had with CBS All Access. You'll now find a lot more — and even more new titles are on the way. And that's in addition to live sports, news, original shows, movies, kid-friendly fare.

In other words, there's a ton to watch on Paramount+, and it really just comes down to whether it has things you want to watch.

And we're willing to bet that it will.

Paramount Plus review: What you get

The better question here perhaps is what don't you get with Paramount+? The streaming service has shows and movies from all sorts of brands that fall under the ViacomCBS umbrella. That includes Paramount, obviously — both Paramount Studios — think, films — and the Paramount Network, which means television shows. And given that Paramount+ used to be known has CBS All Access, you'll definitely find CBS content here as well.

The list of brands whose shows and movies are on Paramount+ is pretty huge. In addition to Paramount and CBS, we're talking BET, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, MTV, Showtime, Awesomeness, Bellator, CMT, Colors, PopTV, CBS Sports, Smithsonian Channel, The CW, TV Land, and VH1.

And that's before you attempt to even break things down further. (More of that below.)

We'll talk about live sports and NFL a little further down, but it's worth mentioning here as well: Paramount+ has a lot of live sports. (And not just NFL.)

You're also going to get a lot of news and documentaries thanks to CBS and the Smithsonian channel, so be on the lookout for those.

And there's a lot of kid-friendly content for all ages, from the itty bitties to the more sophisticated youngsters who are all into Spongebob and the like.

Paramount Plus review: Price and subscription plans

When Paramount+ was fully unveiled, the Paramount Plus price came as something of a surprise. It'd cost $4.99 a month, execs said, which at the time was a little confusing given that it's a dollar less than what the lower tier of CBS All Access was going for. 

Meanwhile, the $9.99-a-month plan (or $99.99 a year) would remain intact and remove advertising on most of the on-demand content. (There still are a few series — very few, actually — that will have advertising.)

And what about all those CBS All Access subscribers who were paying $5.99 a month? They'd be grandfathered in, of course, but there definitely were some details missing from those initially press releases.

The whole thing was more than a little confusing, because ViacomCBS was trying to be cute at first and only announce the lowest price.

Here's the full deal: Like CBS All Access before it, Paramount+ has two pricing tiers. The lower of the two is currently $5.99 a month, or $59.99 a year, and includes advertising in the on-demand content. The higher tier is $9.99 a month or $99.99 a year and gets rid of most advertising.

And starting sometime in June 2021, the $5.99 tier will be replaced by a $4.99 tier that does not include access to the online stream of your local CBS affiliate. Once your next billing cycle comes around, you'll either need to pony up, or lose out.

Paramount Plus review: Movies and shows

Movies on Paramount Plus

(Image credit: WhatToWatch.com)

It's a little hard to nail down in a single sentence what all you'll find on Paramount+ because, frankly, there's so much of it. So we'll start with the basics. If you can watch it on CBS, you can watch it on Paramount+. That runs the gamut from shows like Young Sheldon to NCIS, FBI and SEAL Team, as well as the new series Clarice and The Equalizer.

Paramount+ is where your'll find the bulk of the Star Trek universe — everything except for the "Kelvin timeline" films. It's where you'll find the new series, like Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard, and the upcoming Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.

And those are but three of the new original series that are exclusives on Paramount+. You'll also find exclusive originals like Tooning Out the News, The Good Fight, The Stand, The Twilight Zone, Kamp Koral, and more.

As for movies? There also are a lot of 'em. That's another one that's tough to nail down into a single sentence. All three (good) Indiana Jones movies? They're there. Same for The Godfather and the first three Mission: Impossible flicks.

How many movies are on Paramount+? Hundreds. Thousands. A lot of movies across all genres.

More exciting, however, is that Paramount+ has said that you can expect Paramount movies to hit the service within either a 30- or 45-day window following theatrical release. That's not as exciting as Warner Bros.' same-day scheme on HBO Max, but we'll take it.

MORE: The best shows on Paramount+
ALSO: The best movies on Paramount+

Paramount Plus review: Live sports and NFL

Live sports on Paramount Plus

(Image credit: WhatToWatch.com)

Paramount Plus has live sports. A lot of live sports. You also can watch the NFL on Paramount Plus.

The first part of that isn't any real surprise, given that CBS All Access all had all kinds of live sports, including Champions League and Europa League football, which pits the best European clubs against each other. It also has been home to the National Women's Soccer League games in the United States.

That all transfers over to Paramount Plus. And there's more on the way, with Italy's Serie A making the leap from ESPN+ to Paramount+ in the fall of 2021. There's also the Concacaf World Cup qualifiers, Argentina's pro football league, and The Masters golf tournament.

And, yes, there's the NFL. This was another time when ViacomCBS officials were a little vague with what to expect. Sure, the NFL may be on Paramount+ — but the real question was how they were going to do it. Certainly we wouldn't be getting some sort of NFL Sunday Ticket scheme, where you could watch every game?

The answer was much more pedestrian. Yes, Paramount+ has NFL games, but they'll be region locked, just like they have been if you were streaming CBS on any other service. (What's not yet known is if you can work your way around that with a VPN on the other part of the country.)

The good news? You'll be able to watch those NFL games on either one of the Paramount+ tiers.

Paramount Plus review: Live TV

Yep, there's live TV on Paramount+. If you've got the plan that gets you streaming access to your local CBS affiliate, you'll see that there. Other options are CBSN — their news network, CBS Sports, HQ, and ET Live.

You'll have to fork over location access for live TV, because it's region based. (Just like live TV you're used to. 

One new change for Paramount+, however, is that you can no longer sign in to Paramount+ with an existing cable or streaming login and get that live CBS feed. Instead, you'll have to go to CBS.com (or the CBS app) to do that.

Paramount Plus review: Devices, bandwidth and 4K resolution

The Good Fight, available in 4K and Dolby Vision on Paramount Plus

(Image credit: WhatToWatch.com)

The short version is that Paramount+ is available on just about any device you'd want it on, and with the tech you'd expect to find on those devices.

That means you can watch Paramount+ on Roku, and you can watch Paramount+ on Amazon Fire TV — and that covers the No. 1 and No. 2 platforms in the world. But you also can watch Paramount+ on other systems, like Apple TV, Android TV, Google TV, various smart TV platforms like from Vizio, Samsung and LG, on Xbox and on PlayStation.

And of course you can watch Paramount Plus in a web browser.

Paramount+ supports 4K resolution, as well as the Dolby Vision and HDR10 standards of high dynamic range. That said, the usual rules apply: The show or movie you're watching also has to be served up in that resolution and with those standards, and the hardware you're watching on has to support it all as well.

Paramount+ doesn't give specific bandwidth requirements except to say that you need to have a minimum 800Kbps connection. It does say that mobile data use will vary between 74MB per hour for the lowest connection speed, to 800MB per hour for the highest quality. 

That's all pretty standard stuff these days, and Paramount+ does a decent (if not particularly splashy) job of showing when a show or movie is available in 4K resolution or in HDR.

Paramount Plus review: The bottom line

It's fair to call Paramount Plus "another streaming service." It's accurate — and there's not actually anything wrong with that. 

Whether it's a must-subscribe streaming service? That depends on if it's got what you want to watch. For some, that could well be the new Star Trek originals like Discovery, Picard or the upcoming Strange New Worlds.

For others, it may be for the sports, be it regional access to NFL games, Champions League football — or the NWSL. (And if you're a supporter of women's soccer, maybe it's worth subscribing for that alone.)

Or maybe it's because Yellowstone — and the upcoming spinoffs — are now on Paramount+. Or any of the other new originals series.

Exclusive original content is what brings new subscribers to services. The on-demand catalog of old shows and movies? That's great for the in-between times.

And out of the gate, Paramount+ has a good bit of exclusive originals to enjoy along with those live sports. And while the price does contribute to your monthly streaming total (which likely already is more than you realize), you also get quite a bit of content you can't get anywhere else.

And that's the name of the game.