CBS All Access Review

ProsCons
  • Live CBS news and sports
  • Offline features only with Ad-free plan
  • Extensive past library
  • No 4K/HDR streaming quality
  • Two model plan
  • Lacks more premium plan

CBS All Access is a video-on-demand (VOD) streaming service that gives you the complete CBS experience. Currently, CBS All Access has two tiers of service: a limited commercial and an ad-free plan. With both an on-demand and TV experience, you can stream shows and movies as you please. The service also provides access to live news coverage and NFL games. Owned and operated by the newly formed ViacomCBS, CBS All Access is shaping up to be an outstanding option for anyone considering cutting the cable TV cord.

ViacomCBS recently purchased Pluto TV, a free streaming service. Only time will tell if the company decides to implement Pluto as a free CBS All Access tier. But as it currently stands, CBS All Access remains a paid subscription service. Like Hulu and Netflix, CBS All Access offers exclusive content — just not to the same extent as the latter. You can enjoy exclusive Star Trek series like Discovery and Picard along with classic CBS favorites, including The Twilight Zone and Magnum P.I. CBS All Access also includes an on-demand library full of classic and popular movies similar to what you can find on STARZ.

CBS All Access is not a cable replacement. It lets you view live CBS programming and provides access to an on-demand library of CBS shows. So it’s not the best choice for those interested in cutting the cable TV cord. On the other hand, it works well as a supplement for on-demand services such as Netflix or as a complement to live streaming services that don’t have CBS in their lineups.

What To Watch On CBS All Access

CBS All Access provides exactly what you’d expect —you receive unlimited access to CBS content, including 12,000 episodes of both current favorites and decades-old classics. But what sets CBS All Access apart from many competing streaming services is that it delivers live CBS programming. That means you can watch live news coverage that you would only otherwise be able to get through more expensive cable alternatives like YouTube TV.

For the price of on-demand content, you can enjoy sports televised by the CBS affiliate in your market, like NCAA action, PGA Golf and even some NFL games. Now, are there better services out there for streaming sports? Sure. But for the cost, CBS All Access gives you a surprisingly well-rounded viewing experience. Just don’t expect to be able to record programming — CBS All Access doesn’t have DVR capabilities. But this isn’t all that unusual — most live services simply don’t allow viewers to fast forward through or rewind live programming.

If you’re a Star Trek fan, you’ll be glad to know CBS All Access has a large collection of old and new shows, including several popular spin-offs. There are exclusive CBS All Access series like After Trek, Discovery, Picard and Short Treks. Lower Decks, an animated Star Trek offering, is scheduled to debut sometime this year. Other Star Trek related series you can enjoy include The Original Series and Star Trek: Section 31.

When it comes to exclusive content, CBS All Access is most comparable to Apple TV + or Disney+ due to its limited collection. So far, you can find shows like Big Brother: Over the Top, No Activity, The Good Fight, Tooning Out the News and a continuation of The Twilight Zone. Other popular viewing options include All Rise, Bob Hearts Abishola, Broke, Carol’s Second Act, Evil, Man With A Plan and the rebooted Magnum P.I. There are tons of past CBS titles such as: Cheers, CSI: Miami, MacGyver, Star Trek and Twin Peaks.

There’s also plenty of kids programming — CBS All Access offers Nickelodeon thanks to the service’s relationship with Viacom. Currently available kid-friendly titles include The Avatar: Legend of Korra, Bob the Builder, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Danny Phantom and Sam & Cat and others. CBS All Access also features a decent list of licensed popular and classic films like Bottle Rocket, Eat Pray Love, Fair Game, Gattaca, My Girl, Star Trek: Nemesis, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, The Professional and Zombieland.

CBS All Access Costs And Plans

CBS All Access has an ad-supported and an ad-free plan for you to choose from. The main difference is that one comes with ads, and the other is ad-free — except for live programming. CBS All Access limited-ads plan starts at $5.99/mo. For the ad-free version, you have to shell out a few more bucks — it costs $9.99/mo. The No-Ads plan gives you select offline downloading features. Now, when compared with other streaming services like STARZ or HBO, it’s refreshing to have the option of a multi-tiered plan. However, it’s still far from the selection you get with a service such as Hulu, which offers four options: Hulu Basic, Hulu (No Ads), Hulu + Live TV and Premium + Live TV.

You can also add Showtime to your plan for an additional monthly fee. On its own, Showtime is $10.99/mo. If you have the limited ads plan, then you’ll pay $14.99/mo. for the bundle. With the ad-free version of CBS All Access, the bundle costs $18.99/mo.

CBS All Access Device Compatibility

CBS All Access is compatible with several products, including Android and iOS devices. Its app works with Amazon Fire TV and Fire devices; casting devices like Apple TV, Google Chromecast and Roku; game consoles like PlayStation 4 and Xbox One; smart TVs and web browsers. You shouldn’t have too much trouble tracking down the CBS All Access app.

CBS All Access User Interface

With a sleek black background, CBS All Access videos and titles are pleasing to the eye. Its interface is simple to navigate with a menu that consists of Shows, Full Episodes and Live TV, along with Schedules, Movies, CBS Sports, CBS News and a searching tool. If you’re browsing or looking for something specific, there are additional content categories, including Popular, A-Z, Originals, Drama, Comedy, Reality, Daytime, Primetime, Late Night, Classics, Specials, News, Sports and Movies. Unfortunately, you can’t organize your content into personal profiles with CBS All Access. You share the account as you would with HBO GO and HBO NOW.

The CBS All Access mobile interface mirrors the web interface with its menu options. All downloadable content available through the ad-supported plan is marked by an icon. You have the ability to keep up to 25 downloads at once on up to 5 separate devices. Just keep in mind videos delete automatically after 30 days. And once you start watching a video, it disappears after 48 hours.

CBS All Access also features parental controls — there’re available through your Account Settings. Once parental controls are set up, no one will be able to access restricted content without a 4-digit code. Parental control restrictions even extend to protect children from inappropriate live broadcasts. The service offers four parental control settings: All Kids (G), Older Kids (PG), Teens (PG-13 through TV-14) and Adult.

Streaming Quality

As long as your internet has a minimum bandwidth of 800 Kbps, you shouldn’t have any problem streaming CBS All Access content. The CBS All Access app delivers a reliable streaming experience with a 1080p resolution. Now, this quality may fall behind services with 4K streaming like Amazon Prime Video and Netflix, but compared to Starz and Sundance Now, CBS All Access is positioned somewhere in the middle of the market. It also offers good sound quality — supporting 5.1 surround sound. In comparison, Disney+ offers Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision. CBS All Access could benefit from a higher-tiered option featuring better video and audio quality. But this might not be an issue for you since not every show or movie in the CBS library supports the highest streaming and sound quality.

Can I Cut the Cable TV Cord With CBS All Access?

CBS All Access will give you both an on-demand and limited live TV experience. But it only provides CBS content. Is CBS All Access a comprehensive service you can use to cut the cable TV cord? No. It’s not a cable replacement service such as AT&T TV NOW or fuboTV, but it’s also nowhere near the price of those services either. Like ESPN+, CBS All Access offers niche brand programming along with access to live TV. It’s best used as a complement to other streaming services. So, if you already have Netflix and are looking to round out your viewing experience with news and limited live sports, CBS All Access might very well work for you.

If you’re mostly interested in live news and sports, you might consider pairing a CBS All Access subscription with an antenna set up. With the right antenna, you can watch local news and regional sports programming on ABC, CBS and FOX and NBC for free.

CBS All Access has a generous free trial period, which will give you plenty of time to try out the service. Normally CBS All Access offers new subscribers a 30-day free trial, but the service will occasionally extend that so be sure to check!

Current as of May 2020*

Malin Curry

Article Author

Disclaimer: This article may have had additional images, links or data that was added by this site's editor.

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