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What is Paramount Plus? The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide

The Paramount Plus logo on a bright blue background.

Previously known as CBS All Access, Paramount Plus is steadily becoming a streaming service worth paying attention to. Newly relaunched in 2021, it offers some great movies and shows even if it’s not as high-profile as some alternatives. If you need to know more about it, read on while we answer pretty much every question you could possibly have about Paramount’s streaming service.

What is Paramount Plus?

Paramount Plus’s origins begin under a different name. The streaming service owned and operated by Paramount Global was first called CBS All Access. It launched on October 28 2014 before being expanded and rebranded as Paramount Plus on March 4, 2021, following the 2019 re-merger of CBS and Viacom. Since then, the service has gradually expanded both in terms of content and in terms of its reach. Originally launched in the U.S., the service has expanded to international markets, starting with Latin America and the already existing Canadian service. Since then, Nordic countries have followed along with Australia.

Paramount Plus offers quite a lot of content and all of it is, of course, owned by Paramount. Since its relaunch, it has offered true crime series such as The Real Criminal Minds, as well as a revival of the BET series, The Game, a drama based on Albert S. Ruddy’s experiences filming The Godfather called The Offer, and much more. As expected from most streaming services, content is varied to cater to the whole family while ensuring there’s something for every mood too. The service includes content from MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, BET, and Smithsonian Channel, so there’s generally something for everyone. In all, the catalog numbers more than 30,000 television series episodes and up to 1,000 film titles.

One of its strongest categories is when it comes to all things Star Trek. It’s the home of Star Trek: Picard, as well as shows like Star Trek: Discovery and Star Trek: Lower Decks, making it an ideal streaming service for sci-fi fans. That’s further reinforced by the forthcoming TV series Halo which will be exclusively on the service. It also has The SpongeBob Movie, Sponge on the Run, and Kamp Koral: SpongeBob’s Under Years which are sure to appeal to the kids or when you want to feel a bit nostalgic for a while. When it comes to movie content, Paramount Plus often offers simultaneous streaming and theatrical releases with movies like Clifford the Big Red Dog and PAW Patrol: The Movie airing at the same time. A Quiet Place II was also released on the service 45 days after its theatrical release. Movies like Top Gun: Maverick are also promised to join the service shortly after its cinema release too. Some sports coverage is also offered such as numerous soccer events, although something like ESPN+ would be a better option for those looking for a dedicated sports streaming service.

Paramount Plus works like all other major streaming services. To sign up, all you need to do is hand over your card details and enter some new account details, while picking out a plan that works best for your needs. From there, you can sign in via almost any other device. Paramount Plus works through your web browser with multiple different apps also available to use if you’d prefer a dedicated solution. The service is available via a broad range of different devices so you don’t need any special equipment to use it. Instead, many smart TVs offer the app, as well as equipment such as your games console, streaming device, or your phone or tablet. It won’t take long to sign up at all, and users don’t need to be tech-savvy to figure things out. The idea is that it is a service that is just as easy to use as switching between TV channels on your TV.

How Much is Paramount Plus?

While some streaming services like Disney Plus offer one subscription plan, Paramount Plus provides its customers with two different options as well as a choice of a bundle too. It’s useful to have different options to cater to different needs and budgets. In all cases, the same amount of users can be logged into one account at any one time. The difference here comes down to adverts, 4K streaming support, offline downloads, as well as some content. The cheapest plan is the Essential plan. It costs $5 per month or you can sign up for it for a year for $50 per year. The latter works out at a savings of 16% off the monthly cost. For the price, you get some commercial interruptions but Paramount calls these “limited”. The plan does not include the user’s local live CBS station but NFL on CBS and UEFA Champions League will be available via separate live feeds instead. Also, it doesn’t offer 4K streaming and you can’t download anything to watch offline at a later date.

The other option is to sign up for Premium. Formerly known as Commercial Free, that’s exactly what it is — ad-free. It costs $10 per month or $100 per year (again working out at 16% off the month-by-month fee). Most importantly, the Premium plan includes your local live CBS station which can be hugely important for some users. While the service is ad-free for the most part, some live TV streams have commercials. Also, a few shows include brief promotional interruptions that are effectively ads for other new and upcoming Paramount programming. Still, if you want to watch shows in 4K, you really need to sign up for Premium.

Another option for possible Paramount Plus subscribers is to sign up for the Paramount Plus and Showtime bundle. As you would expect from the name, that means you get access to all things Showtime. That includes recent hit dramas like Yellowjackets, as well as an extensive supply of movies too. It’s not a massively well-known bundle option but if you love the kind of content Showtime offers plus its licensed movies from Miramax, A24, DreamWorks, and many more — it’s a good option. Its Showtime app also offers two live feeds which sometimes air live sporting events including Showtime-produced boxing matches.

Adding Showtime costs varying amounts depending on the Paramount Plus plan you have signed up for. The Essential plan with Showtime costs $12 per month or $120 per year (working out at two months free per year). Alternatively, the Premium Plan with Showtime costs $15 per month or $150 per year — again working out that you get two months free per year if you commit to the 12-month plan. It’s clear then that the Essentials plan is the cheapest of the bunch but you may find it more satisfying to upgrade to avoid adverts. If you can afford it, adding on Showtime is well worth it too. As with almost all subscription services, the longer you commit to, the better value the product is.

What Devices Support Paramount Plus?

As with most major streaming services, Paramount Plus appreciates that it’s important to be able to access it easily across as many devices as possible. Nowadays, few of us only use one device throughout the day, so the range of apps and ways to watch Paramount Plus is pretty varied. It’s possible to stream Paramount Plus content via your web browser on Windows and Mac, as well as Chrome OS. That means you can easily watch your favorite shows and movies even if you don’t own a TV and with very minimal setup required. You could even watch it from your desk at work although we probably wouldn’t recommend it! In addition to web browser support, Paramount Plus also works on both iOS and Android-based phones and tablets. In both cases, you simply need to head to their relevant app stores, download the app, and log in via your account details. It’s super simple to do with the apps very intuitive and takes just seconds to figure out.

TV support is also more and more extensive with Paramount Plus. It supports smart TVs from Samsung, Vizio, LG, as well as those TVs that have Fire TV or Roku built into them. It’s very likely that your TV has support for the Paramount Plus app so you can get started in a very limited time. If your TV happens to not support it, or you’d rather use a dedicated device, there are plenty of options there too. Paramount Plus has apps for Chromecast, Portal TV, Xfinity Flex and X1, plus Cox Contour box. Gamers will also appreciate the Paramount Plus Xbox and PlayStation apps too. The only significant device that isn’t supported is the Nintendo Switch which is often an issue with streaming services right now. Other than that, you’re good to go as it’s very likely you at least own a smartphone or PC or Mac to watch streaming content.

However you plan on watching shows or movies on Paramount Plus, the number of simultaneous devices remains the same. There’s no difference depending on the plan you sign up for or the apps you use. At all times, up to three devices can view Paramount Plus simultaneously. That’s a little low compared to some competitors but should be sufficient for most households. After all, your account should only be shared within one household so most family members should be able to watch different shows at different times.

The whole family can create separate user profiles so they can be recommended content based on their previous viewing habits, without it being disrupted by past viewing sessions by other members of the household. Families of four or more that watch content separately may feel a bit limited as only three of them can view at the same time, but the odds of this happening very often are fairly slim. An added benefit is that users can download shows and moves to watch offline if they’re premium subscribers. Essential plan users don’t have this option though so be aware if you plan on going for the budget choice.

What Countries is Paramount Plus Available In?

Paramount Plus is not available in as many locations around the world as some other streaming services. For now, it has a relatively limited reach but there are plans for it to extend much further over time. Its original launch as CBS All Access was exclusively for the US before gradually expanding to Canada and Australia. Since its relaunch in March 2021, however, Paramount Plus has reached more countries.

Since then, Paramount Plus has become available in the US, Canada, Australia, as well as many Latin American countries. These include Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela. Nordic countries also have Paramount Plus including Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland. Paramount Plus will expand further into Europe in mid-2022. Many European countries including the U.K., Ireland, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, and much more will have the service. France is expected to follow in December 2022.

From there, 2023 will be the year for Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East to benefit from Paramount Plus. However, for now, there has been no confirmation as to which countries within those regions will have the service made available to them. At this time, there have been no confirmed plans for when the streaming service will come to Luxembourg, Belgium, Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, or Belarus. When Paramount Plus comes to some countries, it may also launch as a joint streaming force including original programming from Peacock as well as Paramount. Showtime availability may also be affected depending on existing arrangements within respective countries too.

As with all other streaming platforms, it is currently possible to access Paramount Plus through a VPN, thereby circumventing georestrictions and either checking out content from a different country or using it when located somewhere where it isn’t available. Not all VPNs are capable of circumventing such restrictions but it’s worth checking out which ones will work correctly if you want to try out Paramount Plus from a country where it’s not currently available. However, if you do so, it is a breach of terms and conditions. In some cases, you may find your account closed or suspended if Paramount spots you are accessing it via a VPN.

In countries where Paramount Plus is not available, you will need to use a relevant payment method that works in the country you are browsing. While Paramount Plus is roughly priced the same across all countries, it’s worth considering how currency changes and exchange rates can affect what value it is. Content is often very similar across the different Paramount Plus regions but using a VPN can prove useful in one of the many countries not yet supported by the service.

Can You Watch Paramount Plus in 4K?

Paramount Plus offers some content in 4K but there are a few caveats involved. We’re not just talking about the need to own a 4K TV either. Crucially, only Premium plan subscribers can view anything in 4K. If you have an Essentials plan subscription, you can only watch shows or movies in HD quality. That makes the Premium plan a very tempting proposition if you prefer to watch things at the highest quality at all times. However, as with all 4K content, there is no guarantee that everything is available in 4K format. Not all shows and movies have been made in 4K, therefore Paramount Plus is not able to exhibit everything in the format. For each show, check for a 4K logo to know that it is available in 4K format.

Besides offering 4K support, Paramount Plus also has some shows and movies with Dolby Vision and HDR10 formats too. Again, you need to check the badges on the show or movie page to know what is compatible. Only certain devices can use such formats too. Besides the fact you will need a 4K TV, you also need to watch Paramount Plus via a select Roku model, Amazon Fire TV 4K Stick or Cube, Android TV, or the latest Apple TV 4K HDR system. Other devices do not support the option to watch Paramount Plus in 4K. While iPhones, iPads, and other Apple TVs do not support 4K streaming, you can enjoy superior sound quality courtesy of Dolby Atmos support. As with all extra features, you need to look for the info in the description box to know that the movie or show you’re viewing supports the audio format.

A growing number of movies on Paramount Plus support 4K resolutions. Many of those titles also provide you with HDR in Dolby Vision, along with HDR10 or HDR10+. Movies such as Skyfall, Annihilation, and Star Trek: Into Darkness have all been reported to be available in 4K. Paramount Plus typically upgrades movies gradually but does not tend to make a big announcement about doing so. It’s worth checking back on movies you want to watch in 4K as things change fast. Not all 4K movies offer Dolby Atmos support so you can find movies that have superior picture quality but not audio quality. Big shows like The Good Fight and many nature documentaries are also available in 4K, enhancing the picture quality particularly well.

If you own a 4K TV, it makes sense to sign up for the Premium plan to ensure you get the best picture quality possible. While not all content may have 4K resolutions, many of the latest movies are now made with it in mind so we can only see the number of compatible titles growing over the coming weeks and months.

What Movies & Shows are on Paramount Plus?

Paramount Plus might be one of the newer streaming options out there but thanks to the Paramount name, it offers a ton of great options when it comes to movies and shows. Heading to our look at the best movies on Paramount Plus is an ideal starting point. There are some great classics on there like Airplane! as well as more recent critically acclaimed movies like The Wolf of Wall Street. If you feel like watching something chilling, there’s always Rosemary’s Baby too which remains incredibly dark. Other horror films include all five Paranormal Activity movies too if you fancy a franchise of thrills and chills. If you fancy something lighter, there’s always The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run too, and plenty of other movies for the whole family. Paramount also plans on bringing many of its huge theatrical films to the streaming service straight after their cinematic release too. That has included A Quiet Place 2 and will also mean that Top Gun: Maverick and Mission Impossible 7 will find their home quickly on the service.

For TV content, Paramount Plus has some big hitters going on. Coming soon will be the highly anticipated Halo TV series which should entice gaming and sci-fi fans alike. Sci-fi fans will adore Paramount Plus anyhow with the latest season of Star Trek: Discovery along with Picard Season 2 as well. If you’re looking to get even more of the adventures of everyone’s favorite Starfleet captain — Jean-Luc Picard — you need Paramount Plus. The second season is expected to bring back mischievous prankster Q for the first time in a long time.

The best shows on Paramount Plus are pretty varied overall. The Good Fight is a fantastic spin-off of The Good Wife with some great legal moments that can turn strangely zany. There’s also great animation from Avatar: The Last Airbender which will entice many. Classics like Frasier and Chappelle’s Show are there for some varied humor. One of the best shows ever made, Twin Peaks, is also available through Paramount Plus. While South Park the show isn’t on Paramount Plus, there’s always its hour-long special South Park Post Covid to lure you in. Similarly, while Yellowstone isn’t on Paramount Plus, its prequel 1883 is available.

Other Paramount Plus exclusives include an iCarly revival and The Offer. The Offer is an original series based on the behind-the-scenes process of producing The Godfather and is a must-watch for fans of the classic gangster movies. A new Criminal Minds revival is also in the works for fans of the original to be excited about. While the Paramount Plus catalog might not be quite as vast as some of its competitors, its focus on quality and interesting content means there’s a lot to love here. Paramount seems to be keen to introduce more must-watch shows and movies over time, with the fact its theatrical releases will come exclusively to the service sure to be a big winner for many consumers.

How to Sign Up for Paramount Plus

Signing up for Paramount Plus is an incredibly simple process. As with pretty much all other services online, it takes mere moments to get started. All a user needs to do is go to https://www.paramountplus.com and click Try It Now to start the process. From there, you simply need to enter your email address and password, pick a plan, and choose a payment method. It’s worth thinking about which plan benefits you the most before you dive right in. Read up on the Essentials Plan and Premium Plan above. Basically, Premium offers you no adverts and 4K streaming, as well as the ability to download content to watch offline. Alternatively, Essentials is much cheaper but you miss out on those useful features. This is also a good time to consider if you want to sign up for the Showtime bundle too.

In all cases, it’s possible to sign up on a month-by-month basis or choose to commit to a 12-month plan and therefore save money. It is possible to cancel at any time if you choose the rolling month-by-month option. If you commit to a 12-month plan, you pay for the 12 months in advance. From there, you can cancel so that it does not renew after the 12 months expires.

Once you have signed up, it’s time to install the Paramount Plus app across all your devices. While you can choose to use it solely through your web browser, it’s often much easier to install the app on your smart TV, streaming device, or console so that you can easily control the action and view a movie or show on a bigger screen than your laptop or PC.

Wherever you watch Paramount Plus, the service offers accessibility features so you can watch content with closed captions or audio descriptions. To set these up, you can click or tap the speech bubble icon before clicking on Subtitles or looking under Audio to add audio descriptions. Paramount Plus also offers parental controls as well as a Kids Mode so you can limit the content other members of your household can view. Set these up by going to your account page, scrolling down to Parental Controls, and toggling them on. From there, create a 4-digit PIN so that others can’t interfere with the settings. Then, when any member of the household tries to watch age-rated material, they will need to enter the PIN. Currently, Samsung and Vizio smart TVs as well as older Apple TVs do not support the facility, so you may need to use a dedicated device to protect content.

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