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Is Paramount Plus free with a cable subscription?

Paramount Plus
(Image credit: WhatToWatch.com)

Paramount Plus is the hot new streaming service, with a huge collection of movies and shows that you've loved for years. It also has a world of new exclusives that you simply can't find anywhere else. 

But one of the biggest questions surrounding the streaming service is this: Is Paramount+ free with a cable subscription? That question is spurred in part by the predecessor to Paramount+ — CBS All Access. As the name implied, CBS All Access was all about things on CBS. So it stood to reason that if you had an existing cable subscription of some sort that included CBS, you'd be able to get in. (Same goes for other live streaming services with CBS.) And so that question now extends to Paramount+ after the transition from CBS All Access.

The answer? Yes, you can sign in to Paramount+ and watch the NFL with an existing subscription to a cable service or some other live streaming service, such as FuboTV, Hulu With Live TV, or YouTube TV. But there's a catch: You'll get access to the live stream of your local CBS affiliate, but that's it. You won't get access to the on-demand content, which makes up the vast majority of the reason why you'd watch Paramount+ in the first place. You won't get any of the new exclusives, like The Twilight Zone, Star Trek: Discovery, The Good Fight or The Stand. (And that's just the shows that already are on the service. And you won't get access to the huge catalog of Paramount films, or ViacomCBS content, or all the MTV-branded guilty pleasures.

For that, you'll need to pay the full Paramount+ price. And there are two options there: The first is $4.99 a month and includes advertising on the on-demand content. Then there's the ad-free version, which gets rid of advertising on nearly every piece of on-demand content. (With the exception of just a couple series.) It costs $9.99 a month.

And if you're a student with a valid university email address, you can save 25 percent off the total.

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 Paramount+

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.


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What does signing in with a cable subscription get you on Paramount Plus?

This one's pretty simple: If you sign in to Paramount+ with your cable or streaming subscription, you'll get access to your local CBS affiliate. That's it. It'll be just as if you were watching CBS with an over-the-air antenna, or through the same service that you signed in with — only you're doing so through Paramount+ instead.

It's handy if you only have cable and are looking to stream your local CBS affiliate, but it's sort of overkill if you're signing in with a streaming service — because you could just use that streaming service to watch CBS instead of streaming it via Paramount+.

But to each his (or her) own.

Can you watch live sports on Paramount Plus this way?

Yes and no. When you use a cable subscription to sign in to Paramount+, you only get access to your local CBS affiliate. If there are live sporting events on that CBS affiliate, you can watch them.

But Paramount+ has live sports beyond CBS — things like the NWSL soccer league, and the UEFA Champions League. 

If you want to watch those events, you're going to need a full Paramount+ subscription.

Which cable and streaming providers work with Paramount Plus?

If you have any of the following cable or streaming services, you'll find that you're able to sign in to Paramount+ and watch your local CBS affiliate. (Just another reminder, though, that you won't have access to the on-demand content without subscribing to a proper Paramount+ account.)

Here are the services that you can access Paramount+ with:

  • AT&T U-verse
  • AT&T TV
  • Altice One
  • Armstrong
  • Atlantic Broadband
  • BendBroadband
  • BEVCOMM
  • Blue Ridge Communications
  • Blue Stream
  • Buckeye Broadband
  • Consolidated
  • Cox
  • DirecTV
  • Dish
  • Frontier
  • fuboTV
  • Grande Communications
  • Great Plains Communications
  • Hulu
  • 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