If you didn’t want to shell out $9.99 per month to watch the meme-worthy iCarly reboot, now you won’t have to. On Monday, Paramount+ will launch its ad-supported Essential Plan, priced at $4.99 per month.
This less expensive plan will replace the CBS All Access plan, which included commercials, but also granted access to local CBS stations. If you’re currently subscribed to that $5.99 per month plan, you can keep it. But starting Monday, it won’t be around anymore for new subscribers.
What makes the Essential Plan different from CBS All Access? Subscribers on the new tier will get access to Marquee Sports (including games in the NFL, UEFA Champions and Europa Leagues), breaking news on CBSN, and all of Paramount’s on-demand shows and movies. This includes offerings from ViacomCBS-owned channels like BET, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, the Smithsonian Channel and more. But, local live CBS station programming will no longer be included. So, if that’s a deal-breaker, you might want to subscribe to CBS All Access this weekend.
The existing Premium Plan ($9.99 per month) removes commercials and adds support for 4K, HDR and Dolby Vision. Like other streaming services, only Premium subscribers will have access to mobile downloads.
Both plans include access to parental controls and up to six individual profiles. The service doesn’t have a watch list at this time. But that has become a baseline feature for being competitive in this space, so it’s not a matter of if, but when.
For comparison, the basic Netflix plan costs $8.99 per month, but only lets you watch on one screen at a time. That makes it harder to share an account with family or friends. Their standard tier is $13.99, making it a bit pricier than Paramount+.
Earlier this week, HBO Max unveiled their own lower-cost, ad-supported subscription tier, priced at $9.99 per month. The WarnerMedia-Discovery merger could also have major implications for the popular streaming service, though how that shakes out in terms of content libraries, or even possibly a combined streaming app, remains to be seen.
Ultimately, consumers will make their decisions about which services to pay for based on a variety of key factors including content, pricing and user experience. On the content front, Paramount+ plans to announce a slate of big-name titles when the new plan goes live on Monday, in hopes of wooing new subscribers. But the low-cost plan may also appeal to those who don’t necessarily care about top movies — they just want an affordable add-on to their current streaming lineup that provides them with access to some of the programs Netflix lacks.
Paramount+ owner ViacomCBS said it added 6 million global streaming subscribers across their Paramount+, Showtime OTT and BET+ services in Q1, to end the quarter with 36 million global users. Most of those come from Paramount+.
Paramount+ hopes to rope in new customers with exclusive entertainment offerings dropping this summer. This includes shows with massive, loyal followings like “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars” and “Star Trek: Lower Decks,” as well as critically-acclaimed feature films like “Rocketman,” “The Soloist,” and “Little Women.” For sports fans, Paramount+ will stream hundreds of live soccer matches from the Concacaf Nations League Finals, Concacaf Men’s World Cup Qualifiers, Italy’s Serie A Season, and more.
All in all, Paramount+ will add more than 2,500 titles to the streaming service by the end of summer 2021, which will be available to subscribers on both the Essential Plan and the Premium Plan. To promote this new tier, Paramount+ is offering an extended one-month trial period for those who register between 6/10 at 10 AM PST and 6/30 at 11:59 PM PST with the promo code "MOVIES."
Update 6/7/21, 10:00 AM EST with additional information about summer content on Paramount+