STREAMING SATURDAY: Why Paramount+ still makes me mad

If you read past Streaming Saturday articles, you’ll see that I have a longstanding “beef” with Paramount+. It goes all the way to the days when it was known as CBS All Access. You see, they know they have me. I’m going to pay as long as they keep putting new Star Trek projects on their app. Clearly I’m not the only one who feels that way, since it now looks like plans are underway to have year-round Trek so that I never stop paying them.

Yes, my frustration runs deep because if I want to watch without commercials, I’m essentially shelling out $10 a month for one show. That makes even Netflix seem like a good value. But, sadly it’s not my only problem with the app. While I sure would love to find other content to justify the price, the truth is that it’s just not a very good app.

How is this so hard, I ask myself

Before I start complaining, I will give Paramount+ credit for one thing. Unlike Netflix and HBO Max, it doesn’t give me a choice of “profiles.” I’m one guy. I don’t need to be reminded that I have only one profile. Why can’t other apps just go to the main screen if they see there’s only one profile? But as I said, that’s something Paramount+ does surprisingly well. It’s really one of the only things.

The Paramount+ app launches into its home screen, but you still need to tap again before you get to actually navigate. That’s because it pops up the sidebar menu and doesn’t really explain that to you. So, more often than not you navigate away from the home screen when you just meant to scroll down. This should not be so hard to figure out.

It’s also not terribly intuitive or easy to find what you want, and the suggestion engine is really quite bad. I guess that’s because I only want to watch Star Trek and the AI doesn’t know what to do with that. And yes I will say there are a surprisingly large number of other things on this app. All of them have one thing in common: I’m not interested in them.

Little bugs that make no sense at this point

The app has been around for five years. Yet, there are still little bugs everywhere. If you hover over something, you get an autoplay preview. I’d like to be able to turn that off (something else Netflix actually does well), but ok I can’t. But that’s not really the issue. The issue is that if I start playing the title, the audio from the preview still plays about half the time.

Another issue: the Paramount+ “bumper” that plays before everything is annoyingly loud, much louder than anything that follows it. While it’s not earthshakingly loud like the one on Discovery+ (but that’s a subject for another article) it’s still quite annoying.

I just feel like if I and millions of others are shelling out our $10 a month dutifully, little problems like this shouldn’t be part of the equation.

The content problem

Paramount+ is part of Paramount (duh) which combines the once-separate content libraries of Paramount Pictures, Paramount TV, CBS, and Viacom. That should be a massive gushing fountain of content. It is, I suppose, but most of it’s really dated and a surprising amount of it comes from the old Desilu Studios, an ongoing testament to the brilliance of Lucille Ball.

Still, there are a lot of remarkable omissions. Only two of the Mission: Impossible movies are in the catalog, and Star Trek (2009) is inexplicably missing as well. If you dive deep into the movie list you’ll find a lot of films, but it’s hard to do that since the search function isn’t always reliable.

Also missing are recent CBS shows like The Big Bang Theory which, while airing on CBS, were not produced by them so that show is on HBO Max.

In short, it’s a mess.

I’m guessing it won’t get better

Paramount+ doesn’t have to fix their problems to keep getting my money. I’m sure they know it, too. All they need to do is keep airing Star Trek. I’m sure they are looking at Disney+ which has successfully milked every possible angle from Star Wars, and Paramount wants to do that too. I fully expect that within a few years there will be a show that is nothing more than a “live feed” of the bucket where Odo dissolves each night.

Yeah, I say that, but you know I’d watch it. So who’s really at fault?

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.