Is CBS All Access Worth It?

Is CBS All Access Worth It?

CBS All Access

Short answer, probably not. Longer answer, it really depends on why you’re interested in CBS All Access in the first place.

Content

I subscribed to CBS All Access for Star Trek: Discovery, which drops new episodes on a weekly basis. (Probably purposely preventing people from binge watching the series during the free trial period.) I haven’t watched anything else on the platform. I’ve tried, but I really haven’t found what I was looking for or anything new of interest. All four of the CSI series are on there, but sadly not in their entirety. I was tempted to check out Mom, a CBS show (produced by Warner Bros. Television), but it wasn’t available, that’s over on Hulu.

But maybe you’ll have better luck than me, here’s a brief rundown of available shows:

  • 7th Heaven
  • 90210
  • Big Brother
  • The Brady Bunch
  • Cheers
  • Everybody Hates Chris
  • Family Ties
  • Frasier
  • The Good Wife
  • Jag
  • Jericho
  • Life Unexpected
  • MacGyver (the original series)
  • Medium
  • Melrose Place
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch
  • Star Trek (the original series)
  • Star Trek: The Animated Series
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
  • Star Trek: Enterprise
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation
  • Star Trek: Voyager
  • The Twilight Zone
  • Twin Peaks
  • Undercover Boss
  • Wings

In terms of original content, beyond Star Trek: Discovery, CBS All Access doesn’t exactly have a large stable of offerings. Right now there’s just The Good Fight, a spinoff of The Good Wife, and No Activity starring Patrick Brammall, Tim Meadows, Amy Sedaris, and Jesse Plemons.

Pricing

I signed up for the 5.99 a month plan, which includes commercials. I can live with that, if you can’t there is a higher tier without commercials for $9.99 a month. In addition, Showtime can be included as an add-on to your subscription.

For comparison sake, the base plan is similar in price to Hulu’s cheapest plan, but Hulu gives you a hell of a lot more viewing options. So unless there’s something on CBS All Access that you can’t live without, I’d recommend looking elsewhere.

User Experience

Maybe it’s unfair to compare CBS All Access to Netflix, Hulu or Amazon. They’ve been around a lot longer, but on the other hand if a service is going to ask me to pony up my hard earned money, equal to that of their competitors, then I expect a similar experience. The bar has been set, and let’s just say CBS All Access does not meet it.

The platform is more of an extension of the CBS website than a standalone entity, which doesn’t do it any favors. The standard features and user experience elements that we’ve all grown accustomed to on other streaming services like personalized recommendations and a customizable “watchlist” are missing. (Or I haven’t managed to find them yet.)

To be fair, I’ll throw a disclaimer on the above statements by saying that I’ve used CBS All Access via my laptop and Roku box, so maybe the user experience is better on their app or another streaming device like Apple TV or Amazon Fire TV Stick, but I kind of doubt it.

The other strike against CBS All Access is the actual reliability of its stream. Because episodes drop once a week during primetime in the United States, there’s understandably a large spike of traffic hitting the site all at once, but that’s something they should have prepared for based on their release plan. And based on these issues, it doesn’t seem like they have.

Bottom line for me, and probably for you, if you really want to watch Star Trek: Discovery, then CBS All Access is for you. If you’re a cord cutter and more broadly looking for a streaming TV solution then look elsewhere.

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Written by Jamie Paton

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