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Paramount Plus Review: A Tale Of Two Subscriptions

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Paramount Plus is a good streaming service and most people will find value in paying for a subscription. However, and since the merging of Showtime, Paramount Plus offers two very different experiences.

Paramount Plus offers two main plans to choose from. The Essential plan is an ad-supported tier and costs $5.99 a month. The Paramount+ with Showtime plan is an ad-free tier and costs $11.99 per month.

Paramount Plus $5.99/$11.99
  • Experience
  • Content
  • Features
  • Price
3.9

Streaming Better verdict

We like Paramount Plus overall, but the two plans are just too different now. While Paramount+ with Showtime offers great value, Essential subscribers get a lot less for their ad-supported dollars.

Pros

Ad and ad-free plans
Originals
Live TV
Some sports
Showtime (Premium plan only)

Cons

Expensive ad-free plan
Few Originals
Essential offers less content

While many other streaming services offer more than one plan, they don’t tend to differ quite as much as the two Paramount Plus plans do. Whether you should sign up for the Essential or Paramount+ with Showtime plan not only comes down to whether you want to skip the ads, but also whether or not you want access to Showtime movies and shows as well.

This is one of the issues with Paramount Plus, as the choice of plans now means that there’s no option to just sign up to an ad-free version of Paramount Plus that doesn’t include Showtime. We think an ad-free Paramount Plus-only plan priced between the two others would be a nice option to have.

Paramount Plus full review

If you’re still unsure of whether Paramount Plus is the right service for you, here’s our full review.

How we reviewed this service: Paramount Plus is one of the services we are subscribed to throughout the year. This review is based on that long-term usage and our experience of using the service across a variety of devices, including Apple TV, Fire TV, Google TV, Android mobile, and paramountplus.com. We are subscribed to the annual Paramount+ with Showtime plan (formerly Premium), but also had access to the Essential plan during this review.

Paramount+ specs — what you need to know

Below is a summary of some of the main specifications for Paramount Plus.

Monthly Price$5.99 (Essential)
$11.99 (with Showtime)
Annual Price$59.99 (Essential)
$119.99 (with Showtime)
Simultaneous Streams3
Ad Free✔ (with Showtime)
On Demand
Live TV
Downloads✔ (with Showtime)
Paramount+
Paramount+ Live TV$5.99/$11.99 per month
Live channels
On-demand library
3 Streams
7 Days Free

Paramount+ experience — what you get with the apps

The Paramount Plus app is packed full of content and this does mean that the app can sometimes feel a little busy. In spite of this, we still found it easy enough to navigate and use.

Paramount Plus replaced the old CBS All Access app and this also means that the service comes with a fairly good level of device support. As a result, most homes should find that they have access to Paramount Plus on many of the smart TVs and streaming players they already have access to.

Generally speaking, the experience is also fairly consistent across devices. After opening the TV app, users arrive on the Paramount Plus Home screen.

Paramount Plus Home screen
Paramount Plus Home screen

Typical of most Home screens, this section is broken down into rows, including Now Featured, Originals, Trending, Brands, and so on. The Home screen also includes dedicated Keep Watching and My List rows as well.

Also, like most other apps, Paramount Plus utilizes a left-side menu. This menu is always visible in icon form when navigating the app but can also be expanded to reveal the additional filter options. These include Search, Home, Shows, Movies, Live TV, Sports, News, Showtime, and My List.

Paramount Plus app menu
Paramount Plus app menu

Clicking on Shows or Movies changes the interface from a row-based design to a tile-based setup. This also results in an additional filter menu becoming available at the top.

Paramount Plus Movies
Paramount Plus Movies section

When clicking through to an individual title, the user gets access to many of the usual options, including Watch Now, the option to add to a personalized watch list, access to an episodes list (if it is a show), and access to a trailer (if it is a movie).

Paramount Plus Title page
Paramount Plus title page example

Depending on the title, there may also be some additional options and content available. For example, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds features Extras and The Ready Room sections, unlocking access to clips, interviews, and additional content.

Paramount Plus additional content
Paramount Plus additional content

The mobile app offers a very similar experience overall. It is largely made up of the same main sections and comes with many of the same filter options and features.

One feature that’s available on the mobile app that you won’t find on the TV apps is the option to download videos to watch offline. Well, that’s providing you are subscribed to the Paramount+ with Showtime plan as downloads are not available to Essential subscribers.

Once a movie or episode has been downloaded, mobile users have 30 days to watch it. After the 30 days the video is automatically removed from the app. If you’ve already started watching the video, then it will only remain available as a download for 48 hours.

Here’s a closer look at the mobile app:

When comparing the experience, one of the annoying things about the Essential plan is that the app still shows a Showtime section. None of this content is available with the Essential plan and you wouldn’t necessarily know that at first. For example, clicking on any of the shows or movies will open up the title page as normal, along with a Watch option.

Only when clicking on Watch does it becomes clear that the subscriber doesn’t have access to that content with their current plan.

While it is easy enough to just avoid the Showtime section, the added problem is that Showtime shows and movies are integrated throughout the app. So, for example, if browsing the Shows section for something to watch, Showtime shows will also be listed, even though they are unavailable to watch.

Paramount Plus locked Showtime
Paramount Plus locked Showtime

Unlike when in the Showtime section, these other areas of the app do show a little padlock next to any shows that are unavailable (as shown above) to Essential subscribers, but the padlock is easy enough to miss when browsing quickly through the catalog for something to watch.

Obviously, if signed up to the Paramount+ with Showtime plan, none of this is an issue and the integration of Showtime content within the main Paramount Plus library is actually a benefit.

Paramount+ content — what you can watch

Normally, it’s easy to review the content of a streaming service without having to distinguish between plans, but that’s not the case with Paramount Plus. In June 2023, Showtime was merged with Paramount Plus and now all premium (Paramount+ with Showtime) subscribers get access to all of the Showtime library.

The problem here is Essential subscribers don’t get access to any of this content and this marks a fairly major difference in overall libraries. This is a major point to be aware of when deciding whether Paramount Plus is the right service for you, as you will have to decide on how much content you want, and this directly impacts the monthly subscription cost.

Showtime aside, subscribers to both plans get access to the same Paramount Plus on-demand library, including the streaming service’s selection of Originals.

Paramount Plus Originals
Paramount Plus Originals

While the selection of Originals isn’t bad, it’s not exactly great either, and is far too geared towards fans of the Star Trek and Yellowstone universes.

In addition to these Originals, all Paramount Plus subscribers also get access to a number of Paramount movies soon after their theatrical release.

Recent popular movies that have made their way to Paramount Plus following their runs in theaters include:

  • 80 For Brady
  • Babylon
  • Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves
  • Scream VI
  • Smile
  • Top Gun: Maverick

Other than originals and new releases, Paramount Plus also offers access to a varied back catalog of movies and shows, and from a variety of popular brands including BET, CBS, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, and Smithsonian.

Paramount Plus brands
Paramount Plus Brand hubs

In the case of CBS shows, new episodes tend to become available to stream on Paramount Plus just 24 hours after airing. Of course, it is also possible to watch CBS shows as they air live on the channel. Again, so long as you are signed up to the Paramount+ with Showtime plan.

Paramount+ live TV — what to expect

Similar to many other services, Paramount Plus offers a live TV experience within its apps, and it is not bad either. However, this can be another area that varies depending on the plan you are subscribed to.

Paramount Plus Live TV
Live TV on Paramount Plus

If signed up to the Essential plan, you do get access to a selection of live channels. Many of these are typical curated channels that are based on a theme (Movies and Drama) or based on a specific show (Paw Patrol and Star Trek).

Examples of live channels available with a Paramount Plus subscription:

  • 24/7 Laughs
  • 90s Sitcoms
  • Adult Animation
  • All Day Drama
  • Animation Favorites
  • Black Voices
  • CBS News
  • Crime & Justice
  • CSI
  • History Undiscovered
  • Kids & Family
  • Movies
  • Paw Patrol
  • SpongeBob Universe
  • Star Trek
  • Survivor
  • Reality TV: Shores
  • RuPaul’s Drag Race
  • TV Classics

It is worth noting that Essential subscribers also get access to select live sports that are shown on CBS. For example, NFL on CBS and UEFA Champions League games are available via their own dedicated live feeds.

There is also a number of dedicated sports channels, including:

  • CBS Sports HQ
  • CBS Sports Golazo
  • Combate Global
  • LPF (Argentina Liga Profesional de Fútbol)
  • National Women’s Soccer League
  • SPFL (Scottish Professional Football League)

Those signed up to the Paramount+ with Showtime plan not only get access to all of the same channels as Essential subscribers,, but they also get access to their local CBS station. This is also in addition to the Showtime linear channels.

Paramount Plus value — how much you’ll pay

If mainly interested in the Essential plan, Paramount Plus is largely competitive on price with ad-supported plans offered by many of the other top-tier streaming services.

How Essential compares to other ad-supported plans:

ServiceCost p/m
Paramount+$5.99
Discovery+$4.99
Peacock$5.99
Netflix$6.99
Disney+$7.99
Hulu$7.99
Max$9.99

While Essential offers good value overall, the Paramount+ with Showtime plan offers much better value. You’re basically getting two subscriptions for the price of one here, and both of them are ad-free.

Even though this plan costs slightly more than many other ad-free plans, the additional Showtime content does make a big difference.

How Paramount+ with Showtime compares to other ad-free plans:

ServiceCost p/m
Paramount+$11.99
Discovery+$6.99
Starz$9.99
Disney+$10.99
Peacock$11.99
Hulu$14.99
Netflix$15.49-$19.99
Max$15.99-$19.99

With both ad-supported and ad-free plans available, Paramount Plus does offer different subscriptions to suit the needs of most homes.

However, the lack of an ad-free Paramount Plus-only plan might impact on the value for some homes. If you only want to watch Yellowstone and 1883, for example, you’ll have to sit through the ads, or pay $12 a month for the with Showtime plan.

Is Paramount+ worth it? — what we really think

Yes, we think Paramount Plus is worth a subscription. If you are not interested in Showtime, or would rather save on the cost, the Paramount Plus Essential plan offers good value. The one downside with this plan is that there isn’t any option to upgrade to an ad-free version. If you want to watch without the ads, you’ll have to pay for Showtime as well.

For this reason, we do feel that the Paramount+ with Showtime plan offers far better value overall. Not only do you get a wide variety of on-demand content, access to additional live TV channels, including more live sports, but you also get ad-free access to all of the Paramount Plus and Showtime on-demand content.

Paramount+
Paramount+ Live TV$5.99/$11.99 per month
Live channels
On-demand library
3 Streams
7 Days Free

Paramount+ FAQs

Below are answers to some commonly asked questions about Paramount Plus.

How much is Paramount Plus?

Paramount Plus offers two main plans to choose from. The Essential plan costs $5.99 a month and is an ad-supported plan. The Paramount+ with Showtime plan costs $11.99 a month and not only unlocks Showtime content but also removes the ads.

Is there an annual Paramount Plus plan?

Yes, Paramount Plus offers an annual subscription option for both of its plans. The annual Essential plan costs $59.99 a year while the annual Paramount+ with Showtime plan costs $119.99 a year.

Can you watch without ads?

Yes, the Paramount+ with Showtime plan is an ad-free subscription. However, viewers will still sometimes see ads and previews while subscribed to this ad-free plan. There is also no option to subscribe to an ad-free version of Paramount Plus that doesn’t include Showtime.

How many Paramount Plus streams?

Subscribers in the United States can watch Paramount Plus on up to three devices at the same time.

Can I watch Paramount Plus on my devices?

Paramount Plus comes with fairly wide device support and apps can be downloaded on a variety of platforms and devices, including Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Google TV, and Roku. Additional apps are also available for mobile devices and smart TVs.

Can you download Paramount Plus videos?

Yes, most Paramount Plus movies and episodes are available to download. However, downloads are only available on Android and iOS mobile devices and only to those signed up to the Paramount+ with Showtime plan.

John Finn
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