Paramount Plus does include ads and we recently sat through a bunch of them so that you would have a better idea of what to expect before signing up.
While Paramount+ with Showtime subscribers will occasionally see ads, this is considered to be an ad-free plan, and almost all of the content is available to watch without any interruptions.
In contrast, the Essential plan is designed to be an ad-supported subscription tier. As a result, all Essential subscribers should expect to routinely encounter ads while using the service.
|$5.99/$11.99 per month|
Black Friday: $1.99/month
How ads work on Paramount Plus
Paramount Plus shows ads before and during programs. There is always a timer present in the upper-left corner during ad breaks, so it is always possible to know exactly how long an ad break will last.
During our time testing the Essential plan, we found that how Paramount Plus delivers ads varies depending on whether watching an episode, a movie, or live TV.
Ads during Paramount Plus episodes
When it comes to shows and episodes, Paramount Plus adopts a traditional ad delivery system where the viewer encounters ads before a program and multiple times during the program.
In our attempt to measure the ads on Paramount Plus, we sat through multiple episodes from different shows, and of varying lengths.
Below are some examples of the frequency and duration of ad breaks we encountered while watching individual episodes on Paramount Plus.
|Video length||Ads per hour|
|Before||Ad break||Ad break||Ad break||Ad break||Ad break|
|23 minutes||13 mins, 28 secs||20 secs||90 secs||110 secs||90 secs|
|24 minutes||12 mins, 35 secs||15 secs||90 secs||110 secs||90 secs|
|43 minutes||7 mins, 55 secs||35 secs||90 secs||110 secs||75 secs||75 secs||90 secs|
|53 minutes||6 mins, 55 secs||20 secs||105 secs||110 secs||90 secs||90 secs|
|67 minutes||6 mins, 51 secs||36 secs||90 secs||105 secs||90 secs||90 secs|
Based on the ad experiences we encountered, we calculated that the Paramount Plus Essential plan results in 9 minutes and 32 seconds of ads per hour, on average, when watching episodes. However, exactly how many ads you see each hour will depend on the length of the show. In general, shorter shows tended to result in more ads per hour.
In addition to the typical episodes you get with a show or series, Paramount Plus is also home to a number of specials. The length of these specials tend to be longer than standard episodes, and they also include ads.
As an example, we sat through the Harry: The Interview special, which lasted 76 minutes. There was one ad before the special and six ad breaks during the program. In total, this resulted in 9 minutes and 36 seconds of ads.
|Ad break||Ad break||Ad break||Ad break||Ad break||Ad break|
One of the positives about the ad experience during shows is that you do only have to sit through each ad break once. For example, skipping back after watching an ad break won’t mean having to sit through the same ad break again. That’s unless you exit and come back to the program at a later time.
For reference, not all streaming services operate this way, as some will make you sit through the same ad break after rewinding.
In addition to the ads shown during an episode, Paramount Plus also uses pause ads as well. Basically, Essential subscribers will also see an ad each time they pause a video, as shown below.
Ads during Paramount Plus movies
With movies, Paramount Plus adopts a similar approach to Peacock, where ads are primarily only shown before the movie. This is our preferred method of delivery, as while the initial ad break is much longer, the viewer is then able to watch the entire movie without any additional interruptions.
Another positive is that it did not seem to matter how long the movie was. We watched a variety of movies on Paramount Plus, including Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (136 minutes), Mean Girls (96 minutes), The switch (101 minutes), and Titanic (194 minutes), and all of them included an almost identical ad break.
While the number of ads varied between 4 and 5, every ad break before a movie almost always lasted 120 seconds. The only exception here was a 130-second ad break that we encountered before watching Mission: Impossible – Fallout.
With the varying nature of movie lengths in mind, and the lack of ads during a movie, it is hard to determine an exact ads per hour measurement. However, we are confident in saying that the Paramount Plus Essential plan results in 2 minutes of ads per movie, on average.
Lastly, and even though movies were available to watch uninterrupted by ad breaks, pause ads were still present when pausing a movie.
Live TV ads on Paramount Plus
Like many other services, Paramount Plus includes a number of live TV channels that you can tune in to at any time.
As these channels are live, they also include ad breaks. And as there’s no way to skip these ads, even ad-free Paramount+ with Showtime subscribers will have to sit through them.
Ad breaks shown on live TV are traditionally longer than the ad breaks encountered when streaming library content, and that’s also the case while watching live channels on Paramount Plus.
As to be expected, the length of ad breaks do vary based on the channel, length of program, and possibly even the time of day. If signed up to the Paramount+ with Showtime plan, you do get access to your local CBS station as well. Ads shown on the local CBS channel won’t be any different to the ad breaks shown when accessing the same channel through a live TV plan or over the air.
To provide an example of what you can expect with the channels available to both Essential and Paramount+ with Showtime subscribers, below is a rundown of the frequency and duration of ad breaks we encountered while watching the CBS Sports HQ channel for 60 minutes.
For additional context, we started watching at 9:20 a.m. on a Sunday morning.
|Total||17 mins, 50 secs|
Below is a summary of the ad breaks we encountered after tuning in to the Inside Edition channel at 11:20 a.m. on a Sunday.
As shown in the tables above, ad break frequency and duration can differ depending on the channel, and this was something we routinely encountered.
For example, while watching the History Undiscovered channel for 60 minutes at 11:20 p.m., there were no ads at all during the program. Instead, the show ended at 11:48 p.m. and was followed by a 12-minute ad break that lasted up until midnight, when the next scheduled program was due to begin.
Likewise, when watching the All Day Drama channel for 60 minutes, we didn’t encounter any ad breaks at all.
Paramount Plus ads: recap
Overall, we considered Paramount Plus to offer a fair ad experience. While we found the ads during shows to be a little excessive at times, we really liked the approach to movies. Watching a longer ad break to avoid being interrupted during the movie really made a difference, and especially during longer movies.
Watching live channels on Paramount Plus wasn’t any different. Although these ads are definitely more excessive, we liked that some channels delayed ads to the end of a program, again providing an uninterrupted viewing experience.
Knowing all this, should you sign up to the ad-supported Essential Paramount Plus plan? After comparing both subscription tiers side by side, we would highly recommend the ad-free plan, and especially considering it includes Showtime content as well.
Still, if you want to save on the cost, the Essential plan is not a bad option. If you’re more interested in movies than shows, it’s an even better way to save money.
|$5.99/$11.99 per month|
Black Friday: $1.99/month