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If you happened to catch even 30 minutes of the Super Bowl, then chances are you also saw one of the many, many ads for Paramount Plus. Yes, that’s right…another streaming service is on the way.
Aside from a few cameo appearances from iconic TV characters and a few vague details, the Paramount Plus Super Bowl commercials never really explained what made this streaming service unique. This may have left you wondering if this is the next great streaming service you absolutely need to subscribe to, or yet another late-entry in the streaming wars.
But before we start weighing the relative merits of Paramount Plus, let’s quickly take a look at the essential facts.
Paramount Plus: What You Need to Know
Paramount Plus is a new(ish) streaming service from Viacom that will bring all of the content from the corporation’s various networks, studios franchises and properties under one roof for a monthly subscription fee.
Billed as an “expanded version” of the CBS All Access streaming service, Paramount Plus is promising original content that is exclusive to the service, as well as a wider offering of TV shows and movies than ever before.
Essentially, Paramount Plus is CBS’ equivalent of the Disney-owned Hulu, the NBC-owned Peacock and HBO Max, all of which source content from more than just their flagship networks.
Paramount Plus will be offered with two subscription tiers, a $5.99/month ad-supported tier and a $9.99/month ad-free tier.
But those interested in paying ahead and saving a little bit of money have the option of buying 12-month subscriptions for $59.99 and $99.99/respectively.
Furthermore, if you sign up before March 3, you can use the code PARAMOUNTPLUS to only pay $30 your first year of the service. That’s a 50% discount which you can access here.
Paramount Plus will formally be available on March 4th, but you can essentially get your hands on a beta version of the service by subscribing to CBS All Access. (More on this below.)
Right off the bat, Paramount Plus will have everything offered by CBS All Access. This includes live and on-demand content from CBS’ flagship network, original series which are exclusive to CBS All Access, a large (if not overwhelming) selection of Paramount Pictures films and the majority of the shows from Viacom’s other networks, such as MTV, VH1, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and Smithsonian.
This means you’ll be able to watch new shows such as Young Sheldon and The Good Fight. You’ll also get sports, including the NFL, NCAA and UEFA Champions League. You can also turn back the clock and revisit classics like Chappelle’s Show and Beavis and Butt-Head. Kids will have their pick of shows like SpongeBob SquarePants and The Loud House. And for good measure, the entire Star Trek universe is available, including the All Access-exclusive Picard.
Beyond this, Viacom has only announced a small handful of new shows and movies for Paramount Plus at launch thus far, which include the Mission: Impossible movies, South Park, a documentary on the making of The Godfather as well as the Comedy Central sitcom Awkafina Is Nora From Queens.
Viacom also claims that The Daily Show is coming to Paramount Plus, but given that the last few years are already available on CBS All Access, we're not sure what more they'll be adding.
Nothing has been made official yet, but seeing as CBS All Access is available on all of the streaming platforms used by 99.9% of people, we’re betting Paramount Plus will also be available in the same places. This would mean that Roku, Chromecast, Airplay, Apple TV, Android TV, iOS, Android, LG WebOS, Samsung Tizen, PlayStation, Xbox could all be likely destinations for the Paramount Plus app, along with web browsers.
It’s also worth noting that the Paramount Plus app will not support any Apple TV device older than the Apple TV HD, which means that you’ll have to upgrade, use a different device or use AirPlay to access Paramount Plus. But given that the third-generation Apple TV came out in 2012, we don’t think this will impact many of you.
So Should We Be Excited About Paramount Plus?
OK, so with that out of the way, there remains one burning question: Is Paramount Plus just CBS All Access With a New Name?
Based on what’s been revealed so far, kind of. But we can’t say for sure just yet.
Viacom has been noticeably coy with its post-launch plans for Paramount Plus. And it’s certainly possible it will reveal more about the service during a presentation on February 24.
But what this Paramount Plus push looks like, more than anything else, is an attempt to break free of the CBS name.
This may seem like a lot time and money spent to dress up an emperor in so-called new clothes. But as unnecessary as the rebrand to Paramount Plus seems (for now), there is some degree of logic behind the decision.
CBS has spent much of the last 30 years catering to older demographics with its programming slate. Streaming services, meanwhile, largely attract younger audiences. It’s safe to say that CBS does not overly appeal to cord-cutting millenials and zoomers. Since How I Met Your Mother ended, can you think of a single CBS show that really appealed to young people? We can’t.
And despite having more than just CBS shows, many people don’t always realize that CBS is owned by the same company that owns MTV, VH1, BET and Comedy Central. As a result, there’s a good chance that CBS All Access was unnecessarily fighting an uphill battle in part due to its name.
This makes sense considering that Viacom put a lot of effort and money into expanding CBS All Access in 2020 — adding UEFA Champions League soccer, and a wealth of content from MTV, Comedy Central and Star Trek — only to watch Peacock and HBO Max get all the streaming service attention. Something clearly wasn’t working, and simply adding more content might not be the path forward.
While Paramount Plus isn’t exactly branding gold, the name is at least somewhat recognizable (if not quite as recognizable as it was in the ‘90s). That could be enough to pique curiosity from the public.
But does this mean Paramount Plus is a must-have service? Ultimately that’s for you to decide based on your tastes. If you weren’t fully aware of what CBS All Access was offering in the past, you may only just be realizing that it has some essential programming for you. But as it stands right now, there doesn’t appear to be much differentiating this from CBS All Access except a name change.
But maybe Paramount Plus still has some surprises up its sleeve. In addition to decades of classic films, there are certainly plenty of shows and franchises that it could pull out of the vaults. Would we watch reboots of MTV’s Remote Control or Nickelodeon’s Salute Your Shorts? Absolutely.
But as we wait to know more, getting a taste of the service is still pretty risk-free. As mentioned before, if you sign up before March 3, you can get a whole year of the service for $30. This breaks down to a whole $2.50/month, which is less than you probably spend on coffee every day.