What is CBS All Access - phone app featured image

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The media landscape has changed forever with the rise of streaming services, and one of the first major networks to catch on was CBS. It was the first major US TV network to start its own streaming service in 2015, called CBS All Access.

Five years later, the service boasts more than 4 million subscribers and a growing catalog of licensed shows and movies, plus original content like Star Trek: Discovery. Top that off with NFL football games and kids programming from Nickelodeon and you have a compelling streaming option.

So what is CBS All Access and what does it offer? Keep reading for everything you need to know about CBS All Access, and click the button below to get started with your free trial!


What is CBS All Access?

what is cbs all access

CBS All Access is a streaming service from the US TV Network CBS and its parent company ViacomCBS. This partnership means it’s home to not just the latest series from CBS, but also tons of content from the Viacom catalog like Paramount Pictures films and shows from other networks like Nickelodeon and MTV.

The service first launched in 2014, initially only offering current CBS shows and live streaming of local CBS affiliates. Later NFL football games (including the Super Bowl) were added, leading to a massive increase in subscribers.

CBS All Access also began producing original series in 2017, starting with The Good Fight and Star Trek: Discovery. Following up on the popularity and success of the initial series, the service has added more original programming in recent years, including three more Star Trek shows with a forth expected in 2021.

Today the service has more than 4 million subscribers in the US, and has since expanded internationally in Canada and Australia (where it’s known as 10 All Access). Viacom has announced that the service will be rebranded and expanded even further internationally some time in 2021.

How does it work?

CBS All Access works just like other streaming services: Log in to the platform via your PC, phone, or other connected device, select the show you want to watch, and start streaming. You can also select Live TV from the menu at the top to stream your local CBS affiliate channels.

If you’re subscribed to the cheaper ad-supported plan, you will occasionally see advertisements as you stream. More expensive ad-free plans allow you to stream without as many interruptions, although certain content (especially live content) will still have ads due to licensing obligations.

Is CBS All Access worth it?

Is CBS All Access worth it

Whether or not CBS All Access is worth it depends on what you want to stream. Perhaps its most attractive feature is live streaming of NFL football games, and if you’re looking for a way to watch your favorite sport CBS All Access is a cheap alternative to cable subscriptions. Plus, you can cancel the subscription in the offseason and save some money.

It also has a few films and all CBS original shows, but the library isn’t as impressive as that of other streaming services like Netflix or Hulu. This may change when ViacomCBS expands the service in 2021, but for now it isn’t likely to sway anyone from their current streaming options.

Read also: The best video streaming services that are worth your time and money

One major plus for the service is price. At just $5.99 a month it’s one of the cheapest options out there, even if it does include ads. Removing those ads for $9.99 a month won’t put a big dent in your wallet either, and comes with other benefits like offline viewing on mobile devices.

However, streams are limited to HD quality and the list of streaming exclusives is still pretty small. Even after five years there are only a small handful of exclusive shows worth watching on the service, and if that’s all you’re after it’s hard to justify the monthly fee.

Other network-based streaming services like Peacock offer free options as a way to entice users, but CBS All Access’ paid-only subscription model makes it much more difficult to recommend.

Where is CBS All Access available?

CBS All Access was first launched in the US, but in 2018 it launched in Canada. In 2019 it was made available in Australia, in a partnership with the country’s Network 10, where it is branded as 10 All Access.

ViacomCBS announced in 2020 that the service will be rebranded and expanded internationally in 2021. It’s possible that the company will use the Paramount Plus branding used in its Nordic streaming service, but no official announcements have been made. We will update this article as soon as more details are available.

How much is CBS All Access?

CBS All Access pricing

CBS All Access has two pricing plans: one with ads and one without ads. However, even the ad-free plan has some ads due to licensing agreements.

The cheapest plan, which the company calls the Limited Commercials plan, runs $5.99 a month or $59.99 per year. Note that these prices don’t include any relevant state sales tax that may apply.

The premium plan, called the Commercial Free plan, costs $9.99 a month or $99.99 per year. Again, these prices don’t include taxes, and there is no difference between the two plans when it comes to content available to stream.

If you happen to have Apple TV Plus (or are interested in subscribing), there is currently a bundle deal that includes CBS All Access and Showtime for $10 a month. Combined with the monthly fee for Apple TV Plus itself that’s just $15, which is significantly less than you would pay for the three services individually.

Click the button below to learn more about CBS All Access subscription fees or start your free trial.

Is CBS All Access free?

CBS All Access is not free, and all plans require a subscription fee to stream content. There is some confusion about this as the app description in the Google Play Store and Apple App Store claim access to “free streaming of new episodes”, but sadly this isn’t the case.

Other network streaming services, like NBCUniversal’s Peacock, do have free ad-supported streaming plans, but for now CBS All Access has not announced any plans to implement one.

That said, there are a few ways to gain access to CBS All Access for free. The first is to share an account with a family member. You can stream on two devices at once with one account, so sharing with one other person shouldn’t result in any streaming conflicts.

The other way to get CBS All Access for free is with a seven-day free trial. When signing up you can select either plan for your trial, so you can pick the more expensive plan to try, then switch to the cheaper plan if you want to continue your subscription. Click the button below to get started!

How do I get CBS All Access?

To sign up for CBS All Access, you just need to click here and enter your details. You’ll be able to start with a seven-day free trial so you can decide whether or not you want to continue the subscription before paying a dime.

What devices does CBS All Access support?

cbs all access android device support

Unlike some of its competitors like Peacock, CBS All Access supports a wide variety of devices. You can stream on just about any web browser on the market, as well as Android and iOS phones and tablets via the mobile apps downloadable from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

Read also: The best media streaming devices you can buy

Other streaming devices are also widely supported. Apps are available on Amazon Fire TV sticks, TVs, and set-top boxes, along with most Roku devices. In addition, the service is available on the Apple TV set-top box, Android TV-based set-top boxes and TVs, and it supports the Chromecast dongles and TVs.

As for non-Android TV smart TVs, you can still stream CBS All Access on certain Samsung and Vizio smart TVs. There are also apps for all versions of PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles.

What’s on CBS All Access?

CBS All Access is home to all CBS television shows, plus a few streaming exclusives and movies from the Paramount library. There are far too many shows (more than 20,000 episodes) to list here, but here’s a brief selection of what you can expect on the service.

What shows are on CBS All Access?

cbs all access cbs shows

TV shows are the strongest showing on CBS All Access, with hundreds of classic and new series available to stream. Even brand new episodes can be streamed on the service shortly after their air, so you’ll never regret canceling that cable subscription.

Below is a short list of shows on CBS All Access, not including originals, which we’ll cover in the next section.

  • 60 Minutes
  • The Amazing Race
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender
  • Blue Bloods
  • The Brady Bunch
  • Chappelle’s Show
  • Cheers
  • Criminal Minds
  • CSI (all shows)
  • The Daily Show with Trevor Noah
  • Evil
  • Frasier
  • I Love Lucy
  • Jericho
  • The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
  • The Late Late Show with James Corden
  • MacGyver
  • Melrose Place
  • Mom
  • NCIS (all shows)
  • Reno 911
  • Rugrats
  • Sabrina, The Teenage Witch
  • SpongeBob SquarePants
  • Star Trek (all shows)
  • Survivor
  • The Twilight Zone (all shows)
  • Twin Peaks
  • The Unicorn

How about CBS All Access Originals?

cbs all access original series logo

In order to boost subscriber numbers and build an incentive for people to try out the service, the CBS All Access Originals program was launched in 2017. The first two originals were The Good Fight, a spin-off of The Good Wife, and Star Trek: Discovery, which is set 10 years before the start of Star Trek TOS.

Since then, the service has doubled down on the success of Discovery by funding several more new shows in the franchise, including 2020’s Star Trek: Picard. Check out the full list of current and future shows in the article below.

Read also: CBS All Access shows: All current and future exclusive series

To give you a quick preview, here’s a select list of shows you can stream right away.

  • The Good Fight — This spin-off and sequel to The Good Wife is centered around the character Diane Lockhart, played by Christine Baranski. It follows in the same footsteps and already has a fifth season in the works.
  • Interrogation — An innovative true-crime series that consists of a series of interviews with a man convicted of murdering his mother that can be watched in any order. The idea is that you, the viewer, get to play detective and try to solve the case.
  • One Dollar — A mystery thriller where the narrative changes perspectives to follow the owner of a single one dollar bill. As the story progresses, the mysteries and secrets of an unassuming rust belt town are revealed.
  • The Twilight Zone — Yet another revival of the classic anthology series, this time led by Jordan Peele of Get Out fame. Two 10-episode seasons are available to stream on CBS All Access.
  • Star Trek: Discovery — 10 years before the events of TOS, this series follows the story of the eponymous ship USS Discovery as it explores anomalies throughout the galaxy. Two seasons have aired with a third coming in late 2020.
  • Star Trek: Lower Decks — The first animated series on CBS All Access, this show puts the spotlight on the support crew for the USS Cerritos. It’s currently in its first season.
  • Star Trek: Picard — Patrick Stewart revisits his TNG character Captain Jean Luc Picard, who is now older and retired from Starfleet. The first season is available for streaming, with a second and third on the way.
  • Tell Me a Story — This psychological thriller anthology series reimagines classic fairy tales in a modern setting. The Three Little Pigs, Hansel and Gretel, and many others are portrayed in two full seasons.
  • Why Women Kill — A dark comedy that shifts between time periods to tell the story of three women who are driven to murder. It features an impressive cast that includes Lucy Liu, Ginnifer Goodwin, and Kirby Howell-Baptiste.

On December 17, CBS All Access will release a 10-episode adaptation of Stephen King’s classic post-apocalypse novel The Stand. The first nine episodes will adapt the novel, while the final 10th episode will be an all-new epilogue to the story, written by King and his son Owen King.

What movies are on CBS All Access?

cbs all access movies

Although it isn’t nearly as impressive as its list of TV shows, CBS All Access also has a number of movies from the Paramount library. 

There’s certainly enough here to find something to watch, but don’t expect too many movies from the past decade. If what you’re really after is recent movies it’s probably better that you try out some of the other best streaming services on the market.

  • The Addams Family
  • Bad News Bears
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
  • The Firm
  • Leap of Faith
  • Patriot Games
  • Roman Holiday
  • Seabiscuit
  • Searching for Bobby Fischer
  • Star Trek (classic movies)
  • Sunset Boulevard
  • To Catch A Thief
  • The War of the Worlds
  • When Harry Met Sally
  • Zodiac

You will also find a ton of documentaries from the Smithsonian Channel on the service. Most recently, CBS All Access posted its first original documentary, Console Wars. It takes a look at the battle between Nintendo and Sega in the early 1990s for the console video game audience.

Live and sports content

As part of your CBS All Access subscription there’s a good chance you can also stream live television without any extra cost. These include your local CBS affiliate, CBSN, and CBS Sports HQ, which is combination of several CBS Sports channels.

However, not all markets are included. Click here to check whether your local area supports live CBS programming on CBS All Access.

When it comes to sports content, CBS All Access is an excellent deal. For less than $6 a month you can watch every regular season NFL game, plus playoffs and even the Super Bowl. You might not be able to stream in 4K, but that price is unbeatable!

CBS All Access vs the competition

It’s difficult to pin down just what CBS All Access’ competition is, since nearly all of its content is from one network, CBS. Many of these shows aren’t available for streaming on other platforms.

To help you make the right decision, we’ve compared what CBS All Access has to offer with other services that are primarily focused on streaming TV shows. You can check out a full comparison of more streaming services at the article below.

Read also: The best video streaming services that are worth your time and money

CBS All Access vs Peacock

cbs all access vs peacock

Credit: NBCUniversal

NBCUniversal’s Peacock might be the new kid on the block, but it has an ace up its sleeve to help capture more of the streaming market. It allows you to stream shows and movies from NBC and Comcast networks for the low price of absolutely nothing.

Read also: Peacock: Pricing, content, and everything else you need to know

Peacock’s ad-supported free tier has more than 13,000 hours of classic and modern tv shows to stream, and for $4.99 a month (less than CBS All Access’ cheapest plan), you can bump that up to 20,000 hours. The service isn’t without its problems, but there really is no reason not to try the free version if you live in the United States.

CBS All Access vs Hulu

cbs all access vs hulu

Hulu is another solid CBS All Access alternative, with TV shows from countless US networks on offer. The cheapest ad-supported plan is available for the same price, but the catalog of content is much larger. You can even cut the cord entirely with Hulu + Live TV, which unlocks more than 60 live TV channels.

To sweeten the pot even further, the Disney Plus-Hulu-ESPN Plus bundle at $12.99 is one of the best deals in streaming. You gain access to an enormous amount of TV shows and movies, plus great sports content via ESPN Plus. However, you won’t get access to NFL games like you do with CBS All Access, which might be a dealbreaker for football fanatics.

CBS All Access vs Apple TV Plus

cbs all access vs Apple TV Plus

If what attracts you to CBS All Access is exclusive TV shows, then Apple TV Plus is another service worth checking out. Unlike other streaming services, virtually all of the content on Apple TV Plus can’t be streamed anywhere else.

This does mean that the library is somewhat limited, but with the weight of the world’s first $2 trillion company behind it, the service can only grow from here. Currently there are more than 30 Apple Originals to stream, including The Morning Show, Mythic Quest, Central Park, and more. There is only one plan at $4.99 a month, but it includes ad-free access in full 4K quality.

Other FAQ

Q: Does CBS All Access support 4K streaming?
A: No, the highest supported quality is HD.

Q: How many devices can I stream on at once?
A: CBS All Access supports simultaneous streaming on two devices.

Q: Does CBS All Access have ads?
A: The base plan has ads, and although the more expensive plan nearly eliminates them, some content will still have ads due to licensing agreements.

Q: How many ads does CBS All Access show?
A: Expect about as many ads as you would see on broadcast television. The premium plan reduces this significantly on most content.

Q: Can I share CBS All Access with friends and family?
A: Yes. The service supports simultaneous streaming on two devices, so you can comfortable share with at least one family member.

Q: How many subscribers does CBS All Access have?
A: As of early 2020 it has 4 million subscribers.

Q: Does CBS All Access work offline?
A: Yes, but only with the premium $9.99/mo plan.

The Future: Paramount Plus

paramount plus from viacomcbs

Credit: ViacomCBS

In September 2020, ViacomCBS announced that CBS All Access will be renamed and rebranded to Paramount Plus. The switch should happen in the U.S. sometime in early 2021. It was felt that the Paramount movie studio name was a better choice, since it is well known all over the world. ViacomCBS plans to expand Paramount Plus to other parts of the world later in 2021.

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