Paramount Plus (styled as Paramount+) is an American subscription video-on-demand service owned and operated by Paramount Streaming, a division of Paramount Global. The service launched on March 4, 2021, as a rebranded and expanded version of CBS All Access.
Paramount+ has two pricing tiers available for subscribers in the United States:
- An ad-supported plan priced at $4.99 monthly (rising to $5.99 in June 2022). This plan includes access to the full content library with commercial advertisements inserted into programming.
- An ad-free plan priced at $9.99 per month (rising to $11.99 in June 2022). This plan also provides access to 4K content where available and the ability to download most titles for offline viewing.
Internationally, pricing varies by market. In Australia, Paramount+ is priced at $8.99 AUD monthly for the ad-supported tier or $11.99 AUD for the ad-free plan. In Latin America, the service costs $3–$7 per month depending on the country. Other international pricing falls roughly in line with the U.S. rates when converted.
The service’s content library includes shows and films from the CBS network, Paramount Pictures, Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central, BET, and the Paramount Television and CBS Television Studios production units. The service also produces and distributes new original streaming series.
In the U.S., Paramount+ has live streams of local CBS affiliates in many markets and the CBS NFL rights. The service does not currently include live streams of the CBS network itself outside of these NFL and local rights. However, Paramount has stated that adding a national CBS livestream is a goal for the future.
Paramount+ is available online via the service’s website as well as apps for mobile devices (Android, iOS), media players (Apple TV, Roku, Fire TV), smart TVs, and game consoles (PlayStation, Xbox). The service also has support for AirPlay and Chromecast streaming.
Paramount+ represents an expansion of CBS All Access, an earlier subscription streaming service launched by CBS in 2014. CBS All Access focused primarily on offering a live stream of CBS shows and providing access to the network’s archives on demand.
In its original form, CBS All Access charged $5.99 monthly for an ad-supported plan with commercials or $9.99 monthly for the commercial-free tier. Users could stream CBS live in over 200 markets across the U.S., and access on-demand shows like The Good Fight, Star Trek: Discovery, The Twilight Zone, and other original series produced for the streaming service. The on-demand library contained thousands of episodes from current CBS shows and classics like Cheers, Twin Peaks, and CSI.
Over time, CBS All Access added additional content beyond just CBS-owned programming. A 2019 deal with Nickelodeon brought shows like SpongeBob SquarePants and Avatar: The Last Airbender into the fold. In June 2020, CBS merged with Viacom, bringing together media properties like MTV, BET, Comedy Central, and the Paramount film studio.
After this merger, CBS All Access expanded further, rebranding in early 2021 as Paramount+ and incorporating Viacom’s brands more fully into the service. The rebrand brought a larger content library, including movies from Paramount Pictures and more shows from cable networks like MTV and Comedy Central. Paramount Global also outlined plans for a significant increase in original streaming content exclusive to Paramount+, including revivals of properties like Frasier and Rugrats.
The pricing tiers were also adjusted in early 2021. The ad-supported plan increased to $4.99 per month while the ad-free plan rose to $9.99 per month, increases that were grandfathered in for existing CBS All Access subscribers. In February 2022, Paramount announced the prices would rise again in June 2022 to $5.99 and $11.99 respectively. Despite the increases, Paramount+ remains competitively priced compared to rivals like Netflix and Hulu.
Paramount+ launched in Latin America in March 2021 and in the Nordics on March 25, 2021. Further international rollout is planned for Australia, South Korea, Italy, and additional European markets later in 2021 and into 2022.
Paramount+ offers a deep catalog of film and television content, including:
- New original series produced exclusively for Paramount+, such as Star Trek: Discovery, Why Women Kill, and The Good Fight.
- Episodes from current CBS shows like Big Brother, Blue Bloods, and Survivor shortly after their initial airing.
- Programming from Viacom cable networks, including Comedy Central, BET, MTV, and Nickelodeon.
- Iconic TV series like Frasier, Cheers, Beverly Hills 90210, Taxi, The Brady Bunch, and I Love Lucy.
- Paramount films include The Godfather, Transformers, Mission: Impossible, and Paranormal Activity.
- Classic Paramount franchises like Star Trek and South Park.
- Live sports, including NFL games, March Madness, and UEFA soccer matches.
Paramount+ also allows subscribers to stream their local CBS station live in over 200 markets across the U.S. This includes access to live sports, local news, and primetime shows airing on the CBS broadcast network.
The service is investing significantly in new original content as well. Some major Paramount+ originals include:
- Halo – TV series based on the hit Xbox game franchise.
- Yellowstone spinoffs 6666 and Y:1883.
- Star Trek: Strange New Worlds and other new Star Trek shows.
- The Offer – a scripted limited series about the making of The Godfather film.
- Rugrats reboot and other revivals of older franchises.
- New Beavis and Butt-Head and South Park movies.
Paramount also has an extensive development pipeline for new original films that will debut exclusively on Paramount+ in the future rather than theatrical release.
Paramount+ provides the following features for subscribers:
- 4K streaming – For select titles and supported devices, subscribers to the ad-free plan can watch in 4K Ultra HD video quality. This provides a sharper image compared to regular HD streaming.
- Mobile downloads – Many movies and shows on Paramount+ can be downloaded to mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. This allows offline viewing while traveling or when internet access is unavailable. Some titles restrict downloads only to the ad-free plan.
- Multiple user profiles – Subscribers can create up to 6 different profiles under a single account for personalized show recommendations and watch lists.
- Simultaneous streams – Each account can stream to two devices concurrently. So subscribers can watch on their tablet while others stream on a smartphone simultaneously.
- Parental controls – Options to restrict access to mature content with parental PINs and set content rating filters by profile.
- No contract – Paramount+ is a month-to-month subscription that can be canceled at any time without penalty.
- Live CBS – In supported markets, watch live broadcast CBS stations with local news and shows.
- Choose your adventure – Interactive episodes of select kids shows like Paw Patrol where viewers pick the story path.
Paramount+ apps are available for a wide range of devices:
- Smartphones/Tablets – Android, iOS, Amazon Fire tablets
- Media streamers – Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku
- Smart TVs – Samsung, LG, Vizio
- Game Consoles – PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox One and Series X/S
- Web browsers – Chrome, Safari, Edge, Firefox
This provides broad access across phones, TVs, computers, and other connected devices. Paramount+ can be viewed on two screens concurrently per account.
Advantages of Paramount+
There are several advantages to the Paramount+ streaming service:
- Robust on-demand library – Tens of thousands of episodes and movies spanning current shows, classics, Paramount films, and content from across ViacomCBS properties.
- Original exclusives – A growing slate of original shows and movies that are only available on Paramount+.
- Live CBS – For local markets, you can live stream your CBS affiliate station and view news and sports like NFL games.
- Value pricing – Competitively priced starting at $4.99 per month. More affordable than many competitors.
- 4K and mobile downloads – The top tier plan includes advanced features like 4K streaming and downloading shows for offline viewing.
- Iconic franchises – Massive brands like Star Trek, Mission: Impossible, South Park, and more.
- No locking contracts – Flexibility to cancel anytime. No long-term commitments.
Disadvantages of Paramount+
A few potential downsides to Paramount+:
- Limited original content – The library has fewer high-profile original exclusives than Netflix, Hulu, or Disney+. Paramount+ originals are still ramping up.
- No live national CBS feed – You can only stream your local CBS affiliate, not the national CBS live broadcast.
- Ads on base plan – The $4.99 entry-level tier includes 5 minutes of ads per hour of programming. Going ad-free costs nearly double at $9.99 per month.
- Fragmentation – CBS and Viacom content is split across Paramount+, Showtime, and Pluto TV. It’s fragmented compared to one unified service.
- No offline downloads on the base plan – Mobile downloads require the pricier premium plan. For competitors like Netflix, downloads are more widely available.
- Lacks brand recognition – As a newcomer, Paramount+ lacks the immediate name recognition of services like Netflix or Hulu. It will take time to build awareness.
- The international rollout is ongoing – Paramount+ has limited international availability compared to worldwide rivals. But it is expanding quickly into new regions.
Paramount+ vs. competitors
How does Paramount+ stack up against major competitors in the streaming space like Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max, and Peacock?
- Netflix offers a vastly larger library of high-quality original content. It has invested heavily in exclusive, prestige shows and films with A-list talent. Paramount+ originals are just scaling up.
- Netflix has mobile downloads for offline viewing on all plans. For Paramount+, downloads are limited to the premium tier.
- Paramount+ has a major advantage in pricing. Netflix’s cheapest HD plan is now $9.99 monthly, the same price as Paramount+ without ads.
- Netflix’s availability is nearly global. Paramount+ remains limited primarily to the Americas and parts of Europe.
- Interface and personalization on Netflix are superior. But Paramount+ still provides good watchlist features and custom profiles.
- Hulu combines excellent originals like The Handmaid’s Tale with next-day access to shows from ABC, NBC, Fox, and other broadcast networks. Paramount+ focuses on CBS, Viacom, and Paramount content.
- Hulu’s ad-supported plan is priced similarly at $6.99 per month. Both services offer ad-free upgrades.
- Paramount+ has a better selection of movies, while Hulu concentrates more on TV.
- Hulu includes many popular cable networks like ESPN, TNT, and TBS, while Paramount+ has Viacom networks like Comedy Central and MTV.
- Hulu has the advantage of live television with its Hulu + Live TV plan miming a cable package. Paramount offers live CBS stations in select markets.
- Disney has the most formidable library around its mega brands, like Star Wars, Marvel, and Pixar. Paramount+ has strong franchises, too, but fewer current tentpoles.
- Disney pumps out buzzy new originals aligned with its brands. Paramount+ takes a more mixed, diversified approach to originals.
- Disney+ is cheaper at $7.99 per month. But it has far less third-party content. Paramount+ incorporates CBS, Showtime, Nickelodeon, MTV content, and more.
- Paramount+ allows account sharing better with 6 profiles. Disney+ only permits 7 profiles and limits streams.
- Both services offer 4K streaming and mobile downloads on select content. Disney+ has the best interface and user experience.
- HBO Max showcases prestige original series from HBO alongside Warner Bros. theatrical films. Paramount+ has CBS shows and Paramount movies.
- Library depth favors HBO Max with Friends, South Park, Studio Ghibli, and a vast array of Warner content. Paramount+ competes well but not as deeply.
- Prices are similar at $9.99 for ad-free plans. Paramount+ has a cheaper $4.99 ad-supported tier.
- Paramount+ allows better account sharing with 6 viewer profiles. HBO Max caps at 5 profiles.
- HBO Max has more robust kids and family content from Cartoon Network, Looney Tunes, etc. Paramount+ kid’s content improved after the rebrand.
- Peacock has current NBC programming and Universal films. Paramount+ showcases CBS, Viacom content, and Paramount movies. Both offer some sports rights.
- Peacock has a free ad-supported tier. Paramount+ lacks any free option.
- Peacock Premium includes ads for $4.99 per month. Paramount+ with ads is $4.99. Both ad-free plans are $9.99.
- Peacock has much more British programming from Sky and Universal UK. Paramount+ focuses on American and Canadian content.
- Paramount likely edges out Peacock on brand recognition and content diversity. But Peacock is competitive here.
The future of Paramount+
What does the future look like for Paramount+ as the streaming industry continues to evolve?
Paramount Global seems committed to aggressively growing Paramount+ in both subscriber count and content investments. The company forecasts it will reach 100 million subscribers by 2024, up from under 40 million currently.
Major investments planned for Paramount+ originals include:
- $5 billion in content spending in 2022 alone.
- Reaching a pace of releasing a new original movie every week in 2022.
- greenlighting 50 original international series by the end of 2022.
- greenlighting a further 150 international shows in 2023.
This huge uptick in originals aims to make Paramount+ a true destination rather than just a CBS All Access rebrand. Expect to see Star Trek, Halo, Yellowstone spinoffs, and other franchises get many new shows and films.
The service is also ramping up distribution internationally in a big way during 2022 and 2023. Launches across Latin America, Europe, Asia, and more global markets will bring Paramount+ to wider worldwide availability that can compete with Netflix and others. Offering live sports like Champions League soccer helps fuel global expansion.
Additional technical features, like support for 4K HDR quality and mobile downloads on cheaper plans, may get added over time. Eventually, offering a live national CBS feed on Paramount+ is possible and would add value.
The biggest question is whether ViacomCBS can get consumers to subscribe and regularly engage with Paramount+ amidst fierce competition. But with smart investments in must-see originals and worldwide distribution, Paramount+ has a path to establish itself as a major force in streaming.
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