I did it. I purchased Paramount+ at the best possible price with the most possible features. That’s right. I got it for $30 for the first year with local channels and ads. You can’t get a better deal. And you know what? I still paid too much. I shouldn’t have subscribed at all.
In theory, I’m actually exactly the sort of person who should subscribe to Paramount+. After all, I’m a big Star Trek fan, and that’s one of the main selling points for the service. Don’t believe me? Just check out any of the recent Paramount+ ads, like the one above. What’s front and center? A Star Trek character. Or listen to any of its commercials, all narrated by Patrick Stewart. You know the guy made famous for his role as Captain Jean-Luc Picard. Paramount+ mentions its other shows in passing, but it won’t let you forget that ViacomCBS (and by extension Paramount+) is the home of Star Trek.
I subscribed to Paramount+ in March, which means I’ve had about three months to get to know its content and offerings. Do you know what I spend most of my time watching? Disney+ and HBO Max. Or Netflix. Followed by occasional Hulu and Amazon Prime sessions. I haven’t watched Paramount+ at all in at least a month. And I’m not sure when I’ll watch it again. I’ll probably cancel first—next March.
The problem is content. Paramount+ seems to have a huge library, which is growing. But you could lump the Paramount+ content issues into three categories: found elsewhere, lackluster, or missing entirely.
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When you think about it, a lot of what Paramount+ wants to offer comes down to hitting on your Nostalgia. Shows end, and they go off the air. But that doesn’t mean you won’t want to watch them again. And again. So, in theory you might subscribe to Paramount+ because your favorite show or movie is there. It can satisfy nostalgia! But the problem is, it’s probably everywhere else too.
Do you want to stream NCIS? That’s a long-running show (still on the air!) with over three hundred episodes. Perfect for binging. You don’t need Paramount+; it’s on Netflix. Sonic the Hedgehog took us all by surprise by turning out to be a good movie. And you can watch it on Paramount+ … and Hulu. I adore Twilight Zone, which to me is still a wonderful series of Sci-Fi and thoughtful storytelling all these years later. So it’s amazing to see it on Paramount+. Oh, and Netflix and Hulu.
Avatar: The Last Airbender is by far one of the best animated shows of all time. And The Legend of Korra, while not as good, is still worth watching at least once or twice. For full edification. And you can watch both on Paramount+. Or Netflix. For many people, Frasier is a great way to go down memory lane, thanks to its wit and intelligent stories. But why subscribe to Paramount+ to stream it when you can already do that on Hulu, or even for free on Peacock. Even my son watches his favorite Paramount+ shows elsewhere, like Nicky, Ricky, Dicky, and Dawn, which you can also find on Netflix.
The same goes for Star Trek if what you really care about is the stuff from the ’90s and earlier era. Paramount+ has every episode of Star Trek (referred to as The Original Series or TOS), The Next Generation (TNG), Deep Space 9 (DS9), Voyager, and even Enterprise. That sounds great, I’d watch all of those shows again. In fact, I’m making my way through TNG yet again.
But I’m not watching it on Paramount+. Nope, all of those shows are on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu. So I watch on Netflix or Amazon Prime because on Paramount+, I have to deal with commercials, and on the others, I don’t.
Even if the shows I wanted to watch were on Hulu, where I also have the ad-support tier, I’d prefer to watch there over Paramount+. Because Paramount+ shows way too many commercials. You get more ad breaks filled with more commercials than you do on Hulu. In one episode, I had to endure five breaks for endless commercials. No thanks, I’ll go to Hulu and deal with just three breaks.
And look, I know we all hate how exclusives force us to sign up for yet another service. But this is the opposite problem. You can find so much of the content on Paramount+ elsewhere; it becomes a reason not to sign up. Because you probably already have access to that show or this movie.
Now you might be thinking, shows leave Netflix, Hulu, and the others all the time. All these examples might someday become a Paramount+ exclusive, and that’s absolutely true it could happen. But it’s not guaranteed, and even if it were we wouldn’t know when. The contracts have to expire, negotiations have to happen. And at that end of the day, we’re talking about the state of things now. It’d be silly to subscribe to any service because it might someday have an exclusive.
The exception for Star Trek fans here is the newer stuff, Star Trek: Discovery, Picard, and Lower Decks which is exclusive to Paramount+. But that delves into a different problem: lackluster content.
In theory, Star Trek is supposed to be a big reason I should want to subscribe to Paramount+ since it’s the only place you can watch the newest Star Terk shows. I’ve already admitted I’m a super Star Trek nerd who can quote the quotes and probably put together a “top ten” episodes list. But that’s for the stuff from the 90s era and the original series. When it comes to the new Star Trek series like Discovery, Picard, and Short Treks … ugh, just no. I’m sorry but I can’t do it as a Star Trek fan. The problems are endless.
Discovery famously went through product setbacks and producer changes, and it shows. I never finished the first season. It’s painful to watch. And I’ve heard the second season gets better and the third season is arguably good, but who wants to torture themselves in the hope of a potential payoff?
Star Trek: Picard doesn’t feel like a Star Trek show at all, and it’s full of continuity issues that bug me. I only kept watching because of Patrick Stewart, and I feel no need to watch again. The standout is Lower Decks which is far better than I expected but also doesn’t really merit a second watch-through. That’s down to the nature of the show, which is a Rick and Morty-style cartoon comedy that also wants to be The Office. It works, but it’s just pretty good, not great.
And it’s not just Star Trek that’s a problem, mind you. Paramount+ is filled with stuff that just doesn’t sound like anything I’d ever want to watch. Half of it seems to be reality shows. You can watch every episode and season of Survivor, but I still don’t understand why you’d want to. And that’s probably its best reality show.
It also has an abundance of documentaries, including three about 9/11 and three about Princess Diana. Do we really need that many covering the same topics? You’ll find gross comedies, like Crank Yankers, or uninspired MTV shows (nearly everything after Daria). And maybe some of that appeals to you, but none of it appeals to me.
You might think that I’m the problem and that I don’t like the kind of content that Paramount owns, but that’s not it at all. The problem is, the Paramount content I’d really love to watch isn’t even on Paramount+.
Parmaount+ famously started as CBS All Access before renaming and pulling in Nickelodeon, MTV, and Comedy Central shows. That sounds great. I like lots of CBS shows. Too bad I can’t watch them on Paramount+; I have to go elsewhere. That might sound like I’m complaining about shows I can find on other services again, but this time it’s worse. Instead of, “why would I sign up to watch this on Paramount+ when I can see it on Netflix” it becomes, “why would I sign up when the show isn’t even on Paramount+, instead it’s on Netflix.”
Take Big Bang Theory. That’s a CBS show and you can’t watch it on Paramount+, it only has Young Sheldon. If you want Big Bang Theory, turn to HBO Max. Speaking of HBO Max, that’s also where you’ll find South Park, and not in the Comedy Central section of Paramount+.
Feel like watching Broad City? That’s not on Paramount+, it’s on Hulu. And so is How I Met Your Mother. How about Shanara Chronicles, which may be the only MTV show after Daria worth watching. Just kidding, that’s on Netflix, not Paramount+. With the promise to bring in Nickelodeon shows, I really hoped to relive some childhood and catch an episode of Pete & Pete. Too bad you can’t stream that one at all.
Even when something is on Paramount+, that doesn’t guarantee all of it is. NCIS: LA, The Challenge, The Real World, and more are missing episodes or whole seasons. You can’t watch most of the Star Trek movies, with only Star Trek IV, VII, VIII, and X on offer. And I hope you like the first three Mission Impossible movies, cause you can’t watch any after that.
But there’s another big problem surrounding Paramount+ and missing content. As you can probably guess, I’m a cord-cutter and haven’t had cable or satellite service in nearly a decade. That means I miss out on new shows on stations like CBS most of the time. You’d think by subscribing to Paramount+ I could finally catch up on all the great new shows I’ve been missing. But I can’t.
Because even if the show is on Paramount+, it might only be the current season. I’ve been told more than once to check out All Rise, but Paramount+ only shows season 2. I’m working my way through Big Bang Theory for the first time ever, on HBO Max of course. If I want to check out its spin-off, Young Sheldon, I guess I’ll stay at HBO Max. That service hosts the first three seasons while Paramount+ only hosts the fourth. Mom stars Anna Farris and that’s all I need to know to want to check it out. Alas, Paramount+ only has season 8. Oh well, I guess.
The gaps in Paramount+ content are larger than the plot holes in an episode of Star Trek: Picard. And ultimately, it leaves me with nothing to watch. So, on the one hand, I got a year of Paramount+ for a really good deal.
But on the other, I still paid too much. And I’m definitely not going to spend more when it’s time to re-up and pay the normal price. I’ve already seen everything I want to, and the only thing I have to look forward to is a second season of Picard, Lower Decks, and maybe Prodigy when it arrives. But for those slim pickings, I’d be better of subscribing month to month.
Maybe Paramount+ will fix its problems someday. But for now, I’ve paid for a service I don’t use it doesn’t look like that will change.