We’ve had a few days to take some time with the new streaming service Paramount+ that launched on March 4, 2021. The service is more of a rebrand of CBS All Access (launched back in 2014) than a completely new platform, so everywhere you may have accessed CBS All Access will now redirect to Paramount+.
Paramount+ costs $5.99 per month for the plan with Limited Commercials or $9.99 per month for the Commercial Free plan. However, you should know Live TV programming still has traditional commercial breaks.
Here are some thoughts on the new streaming service. Just a note, the Paramount+ apps were reviewed on Apple devices so it’s possible Android users don’t experience all the same issues or drawbacks.
Paramount+ has a wide selection of content available from movies, TV series, animated shows and movies, sports networks and live television. Over the time CBS All Access was active content was continually being added, including titles from Paramount Pictures after the re-merger of CBS and Viacom to form ViacomCBS. Now, there are approximately 30,000 TV episodes and 2,500 feature titles to chose from.
Big Movie Titles
In addition to many titles distributed by Paramount Pictures such as The Godfather Trilogy, Mission: Impossible movies, and Star Trek franchise films, the service will bring upcoming big movies to the platform 45 days after premiering such as A Quiet Place Part II, Mission: Impossible 7 and Paw Patrol: The Movie.
Paramount+ has a huge library of TV episodes from popular shows such as Blue Bloods, Chappelle’s Show, and NCIS, as well as classics like The Brady Bunch, Cheers, Family Ties, and MacGyver. The service also inherits CBS All Access flagship series Star Trek: Discovery along with all Star Trek television series. To put it simply, there is enough TV content for a lifetime.
While only a few Paramount+ Originals including Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard, The Good Fight, and The Twilight Zone are currently offered in 4k and/or Dolby Vision, the streaming quality of the titles we reviewed tended to be impressive (even in HD). Take for example Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown (1997) that has really nice color rendering and generally good sharpness throughout. And, audio quality on the newer titles is offered in 5.1. See a list of 4k titles on Paramount+.
What may be one of Paramount’s flagship television shows, Yellowstone, is not available on Paramount+ because it is streaming on Peacock.
You Can’t “Add to List”
What we’d like to see are list options for individual profiles to save titles for watching later. Lists according to moods would also be nice, for example Comedy, Drama, Scary, etc. So far none of the Paramount+ platforms (PC, mobile or TV apps) we reviewed have this option.
Lack of Dolby Atmos
The option of Dolby Atmos for select titles would be nice, and would also bring Paramount+ up to speed with other platforms such as Apple+, Disney+, and of course Netflix. Even HBO Max has a few new titles that stream in 4k with Atmos.
Search Got Wonky
After trying to search the word “epic” on the Paramount+ app for Apple TV it would not go away to try another search. Even after clearing the search field by using a voice command the search got stuck again and could not be accessed. It’s something that will hopefully be fixed in the next update to the app.
Search Results Need Improvement
The Paramount+ search engine results could also be improved by including actor/actress names, director names, and mispellings. We tested search terms such as “pam grier,” “tom cruise,” “francis ford coppola,” and the mispelling “mision impossible” only to get the response “Uh-oh, we couldn’t find that!.”
Could Use More Audio/Video Specs
Like most newer streaming services, Paramount+ doesn’t show all the specs we like to see like 4k, HDR, audio formats (2.1, 5.1, or Atmos). Under the More or Info sections it would be great if we could see more than just a short description. Right now, through the app for Apple TV, all that is noted is “4k.”
This is true for all formats reviewed including the Apple TV app, iPhone app, and website URL. What is also worth noting is the iPhone app does not even show Dolby Vision for the two Star Trek original series ‘Discovery’ and ‘Picard,’ even though the device may support it.
All in all, the initial Paramount+ service is easily worth $9.99 per month. While there are some bugs to work out, and 4k, HDR and Atmos are either non-existent or limited, the amount of content and quality of video streams lean the service into a more favorable light. Let’s just hope the apps are improved, 4k expanded, and audio formats upgraded sooner rather than later.