These days, streaming services are all around us – from small, niche services dedicated to one topic (like horror or British content), to streaming behemoths like Netflix and Disney+. Is there room for yet another one in this crowded market? That’s what Paramount+ is hoping.
In the US, Paramount+ has been around in some form since 2014, but it finally jumped over to the UK on June 22, 2022. With a diverse (but small) list of TV shows and films, a very competitive price and a whole lot of Star Trek, the streaming service wants to play with the big boys.
But despite its noble intentions, Paramount+ UK still feels like one of those more minor niche streaming services – most of its exclusive UK titles have been out (in the US) for months, the back catalogue is disappointingly small, and the apps still suffer from a few technical issues.
Still, Paramount+ UK shows a lot of promise, with big plans ahead. So in this in-depth review, I’ll take a look at what the service offers right now, whether it’s good value-for-money, and what its future may bring.
Quick Look – Paramount+ UK
What Is It: An online streaming service that offers a mix of exclusive originals, older shows from Paramount/CBS/Showtime and films from Paramount Pictures.
Pricing: A Free trial, then £6.99/month or £69.90/year.
Value for Money
- A decent selection of high-quality TV shows
- Lots of content for Star Trek fans
- Lower cost than most of the competing streaming services
- Available on most streaming devices (including Sky)
- Subtitles on most of the content
- The content catalogue is still quite small compared to the competition
- Almost nothing you haven’t been able to watch before, elsewhere (for now)
- No 4K / HDR or Dolby Atmos
- Limited Downloads option on smartphones
Paramount+ shows promise, but it’s pretty lacking in its current state: the library is compact and full of titles that were recently available elsewhere (some still are), there aren’t enough exclusives and originals yet, along with some glaring omissions from Paramount/CBS’ archives. For the price, however, you can certainly have some fun with it for a month or two – and then leave until the content coffers are filled.
Table of Contents
What Is Paramount+?
Paramount+ started its life in the US back in 2014, as CBS All Access, named after the popular American TV network. Back then, it mainly relied on content from the vast CBS library – and a few early originals like The Good Fight and Star Trek: Discovery.
Now owned by Paramount Global (previously ViacomCBS) and renamed Paramount+, the service started going global in the past year. By the end of the first quarter of 2022, Paramount+ had almost 40 million customers.
In the US, the service offers a combination of exclusive originals, blockbuster films (often shortly after their theatrical release), a rich back catalogue, sports and even live TV.
In the UK, we’re only getting the TV and films part, with no sports or live TV planned for the time being.
How Can I Watch Paramount+ In The UK?
With Paramount+ being a streaming service, you can’t watch it via an aerial, as it’s based on broadband.
As with any streaming service, you need a streaming device that supports the Paramount+ app. Luckily, most of the streaming devices sold in the UK already support Paramount+ – smartphones, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Apple TV, Android TV, Samsung Smart TVs and more.
A few notable exceptions in the UK are gaming consoles – XBOX AND Playstation – that don’t currently have the Paramount+ app, and LG televisions.
Prime Video Channels require an Amazon Prime subscription, and you then subscribe to Paramount+ on top of that. You will then be able to watch Paramount+ on any device that supports the Prime Video app, not just those with the Paramount+ app.
Paramount+ UK Price
Paramount+ UK costs £6.99/month or £69.90/year (so £5.82/month) if you pay up for an entire year in advance.
There’s also a free 7-day trial, but you have to add a payment card, even for the free trial – so don’t forget to cancel if you don’t want to get billed.
In the US, Paramount+ also has a cheaper tier with adverts, but in the UK, there’s only one tier – without any adverts. Personally, I’m happy with that, as I hate paying for a streaming service only to then have to watch adverts on top (are you listening, NOW TV?)
Sky customers without Sky Cinema can still use the Paramount+ app on Sky Q and Sky Glass, but will have to sign up directly and pay the regular price (check our complete guide of Paramount+ on Sky).
Using Paramount+ UK
If you have ever used a streaming service (and who hasn’t at this point), you’ll feel right at home with the Paramount+ interface.
I tested the app on several devices (Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Android and Sky Glass), and it was pretty flawless on all of them (though some Sky users are still facing technical issues).
You get the familiar rows of thumbnails, categorised by groups such as “Trending TV Show”, “New Releases”, “Comedy Movies”, and more.
At the top, you’ll find the “Continue Watching” row, where you can jump right back into something you already started, and the “My List” section.
Paramount+ also has a row of “Brands”, a-la Disney+ with their Marvel / Star Wars / Pixar etc.
In Paramount Plus’ case, the “Brands” include Paramount+ Originals, Showtime, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr. and Smithsonian Channel.
It’s a nice show of force, in theory – but with Paramount+ having such a small library, it’s kind of silly to create a dedicated Comedy Central tab that currently has exactly six shows. Yes, six.
Things are somewhat better on the other Brand tabs, but not by much – this issue of not having enough content is a repeating trend.
The streaming itself works fine, and I haven’t noticed any buffering issues while watching (though that also depends on your broadband speed, of course).
Sadly, Paramount+ UK doesn’t support 4K/HDR or Dolby Atmos, which is a shame in this day and age. While it’s true that Netflix charges more for 4K, the other big services – Prime Video and Disney+, include 4K as part of their single tier.
Launching without 4K support at all, especially when Paramount+ in the US DOES support 4K – is a misstep (but the Paramount folk tell me 4K support is still in the cards for the future).
The Smartphone (iOS/Android) app generally works well, and it even lets you download some of the content for offline viewing – but only a limited selection is available to download, with many of the big-name shows excluded from this feature.
What Can I Watch On Paramount+ UK?
At launch, Paramount+ UK promised more than 8,000 hours of content. Of course, that takes into account multiple seasons and episodes.
Currently, there are around 250 TV shows and 400 films, which could have sounded great… three years ago.
Compare Paramount Plus’ 650 titles to Netflix’s 6,700+, Prime Video’s 8,700+ or Disney Plus’ 2,500+, and that number isn’t all the impressive anymore.
And that low number is quite visible: when you go to the “Series” section and pick “All Series”, the rows you can scroll through reach an end pretty quickly. And it gets worse when you check out specific categories, like “Reality Hits”, and find just 20 titles.
This is particularly annoying when you think about the missed potential – Paramount+ supposedly has the might of the CBS archive behind it – so where are all the classic shows?
Where did shows like Survivor (40 seasons and counting!) and The Amazing Race go? Where’s the original (or the rebooted) Twilight Zone? Where’s Family Ties? Dallas? M*A*S*H? And those are just a few favourites off the top of my head, but that list of potentials is quite long.
At least Cheers is here, but it’s just one reminder of what could have been.
Then there are the shows that only give you a taste: NCIS, for example, only has Seasons 14-16 (the rest are on Disney+). The classic Medium (starring Patricia Arquette) only offers Seasons 6-7, and it’s a TV show from 17 years ago.
Some of these issues stem from Paramount selling licensing rights to other broadcasters and streamers over the years – so it’ll take time until they gain those back and can claw their own content back into Paramount+.
Another reason, I presume, is to keep viewers’ interest, and to keep people subscribed – Paramount+ is planning to add content every week, so they couldn’t give us everything right from the start. But there’s a not-so-fine line between everything and, well, 26 comedy shows (I counted).
The Movies section is just as eclectic – it currently feels as if an old Blockbuster store blew up, and someone picked up all the randomly scattered DVDs.
You can’t find some of Paramount Picture’s biggest hits (where’s Top Gun? Oh, it’s on Sky), but you can find some lovable classics like 48 Hrs., Airplane Chinatown and more.
Some of the newer hits – like Scream 5, Sonic The Hedgehog 2 and even Top Gun: Maverick are expected to come to Paramount+ later in the year – but they’re not here yet, even though the first two are ALREADY available on Paramount+ in the US.
The randomness of it all continues with the franchises – you get most of the Transformers movies – 2,3 and 4 – but not the first one. Why?
The same goes for Star Trek, where the new rebooted trilogy that started in 2009 is only represented by the first film. Where are the other two?
Launching a new streaming service after you’ve been licensing content to other players for years is hard, and it takes time – but whatever the reason, the current content selection is scarce and somewhat confusing.
All that being said – there’s still some good stuff to watch on Paramount+.
If you’re a Star Trek fan, you’re going to get your itch scratched and then some, with the excellent new Star Trek: Strange New World (though you only get the first three episodes, with the rest being added weekly), Star Trek: Discovery, and most of the classic older shows.
You also get Yellowstone and its spinoff series 1883 – a franchise that’s super-popular in the US, and isn’t all that familiar to UK audiences yet (as it was somewhat buried on The Paramount Network, now known as 5Action).
And I haven’t watched any of the other Paramount+ Originals yet, like The First Lady, Halo, Mayor of Kingstown and more – but some of them certainly show promise.
Some Paramount+ Originals are missing, however – again, because of early licensing deals. So Star Trek: Picard is still on Amazon’s Prime Video, The Good Fight is there as well, and Evil is, well, nowhere.
All in all, the content section is somewhat of a mixed bag at the moment – it has some excellent shows, but they’re few and far between for now – and, most have already been available on Sky or any of the other services.
The Bottom Line: Is Paramount+ UK Worth It?
Paramount is a big name around Hollywood, and CBS is a big name in TV history. Therefore, when these two names come together to bring us a streaming service that’s meant to compete with Netflix and Disney+ – the expectations are high.
Does Paramount+ meet those expectations? At the moment, no. However, it’s worth remembering that when Disney+ launched in the UK (before the days of Star), they had a relatively small content library as well – and look at them today.
It’s hard to compete with services like Netflix and Prime Video that have been around for years. The potential is there – there are some excellent Paramount+ originals, there are more on the way, and they have a vast archive of content to pull from.
I just think they could have worked harder on that first impression – WOW us from Day 1, and not just a year later.
That being said, at £6.99/month, and the ability to easily start and cancel (as with most streaming services) – you will still find a few gems – with the promise of a better future yet to come.