Over the last decade, we’ve witnessed the TV-panorama transmute unceasingly. First came the online DVD-rental services; then came the video-on-demand streaming services, soon, Live TV channels were introduced online. And the most recent trend is that of major broadcasting networks offering standalone over-the-top streaming services dedicated to their channel’s content while also distributing it to the top VOD services such as Netflix and Hulu.
Single-channel streaming services aren’t as popular as an all-in-one type of VOD sites like Hulu & Sling TV. However, if you’re a CBS channel content fan and are wondering whether their OTT service is worth it (aside from watching Star Trek: Discovery series), read on.
Presenting To You: CBS All Access
Following the footsteps of HBO, CBS Interactive released its own streaming service in late 2014, called CBS All Access. The service was reported to enjoy a user base of about 1.5 million subscribers just last year. Aside from offering CBS programs on-demand, the service also enables live streaming of local CBS stations. Presently, it is available only in the United States.
However, the company plans to expand its wings internationally in the near future (Canada is first on the list, followed by Australia). As with any premium service, the CBS All Access subscription does come at a price, albeit, reasonable. We’ll talk about this in detail in the next section.
CBS All Access Price & Features
CBS All Access’ pricing tiers take a very Hulu-like approach, hinging on the presence of advertisements, or the lack thereof. You can opt for either of the following versions:
1. Limited Commercials
Priced at $5.99 per month, the plan includes unlimited content in the highest possible quality and two simultaneous streams. However, as the heading suggests, this plan does show brief commercials, the typical ones you see on television.
2. Commercial Free
Priced at $9.99 per month, this plan includes everything we just mentioned under the “Limited Commercials” plan. However, it is a tad bit misleading. Because even though the ads are greatly cut down, it is not completely devoid of them. When watching live streams of CBS stations, you do get a cable TV-like ad structure.
As of now, the only add-on available on CBS All Access is “Showtime”. The complete package having CBS & Showtime comes for $14.99 per month with limited commercials and 18.99 for no ads.
Note that the same add-on on other services Like Hulu is available for about $10.99/month. If you’re not sure about splurging right away, you could always subscribe to the free trial which is valid for 7 days.
What Can You Watch on CBS All Access?
The service claims to feature over 9,000 episodes while also offering Live TV streams from local CBS affiliates and CBS All Access Originals on the platform. Usually, you’ll find that the latest episodes of a CBS show are uploaded on the site just a day after its original broadcast.
Some of the most-watched TV shows on CBS All Access are 7th Heaven, The Usual Suspects, Beauty and the Beast, Blue Bloods, Big Brother, The Bold and the Beautiful, CSI, and Madam Secretary. CBS All Access shines in the department of classic shows like Taxi, Hawaii Five-O, Frasier, and The Twilight Zone.
You could also stream live news and sports events such as the NFL, CBS This Morning, 60 Minutes, Face the Nation, and CBS Evening News.
Note that the NFL is inaccessible on smartphones due to an exclusive tie-up with Verizon.
Though the service contains back catalogs of the majority of its popular and on-going series, we found that a few of them are incomplete. One of my co-workers was excited to watch reruns of Criminal Minds, only to be disappointed with short 5-minute clips from the show. That said, you do get plenty of content on the platform.
The biggest hype transpired post the launch of the Star Trek: Discovery series. CBS released the first episode on its main cable network but then on, all the episodes have been made available exclusively on CBS All Access. This is clearly in an attempt to lure more and more subscribers to their standalone OTT service. Nonetheless, if you’re an ardent Star Trek fan, living in the U.S., this is perhaps your only legal streaming-vehicle to the show.
Interface And Video Quality
CBS All Access is a no-frills streaming service with minimal design intricacies but an extremely efficient navigation bar consisting of categories like “Shows”, “Full Episodes”, “Live TV”, “Schedule”, and “Movie”. You could also easily filter content using various sub-categories including Originals, Drama, Reality, Primetime, Late Night, Classics, Specials, News, and Sports.
We had absolutely no trouble playing any of the episodes or clips. However, one drawback that we noticed was that some of the content wasn’t available in high resolution (i.e. over 720p).
To boot, 4k videos aren’t available at all. That said, you can enjoy the service on a number of devices including iOS phones/tablets, Chromecast, Android devices, Xbox consoles, Windows, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.
Although it all comes down to your personal preferences & usage, here are three things on the basis of which to decide whether to subscribe to CBS All Access or skip it:
- Skip if you’re a movie buff
- Skip if you’re seeking popular content from other networks
- Subscribe if you’re a die-hard fan of Star Trek shows (Discovery especially), unless you’re okay to wait for it to be released on other streaming services.
CBS All Access has a lot of scopes provided they expand their library. But otherwise, it doesn’t really give you a bang for your buck. There are many other streaming sites outshining CBS All Access with better selection and video quality.