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Last updated on Feb 17, 2020

CBS All Access Review

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CBS All Access

Pros

  • Live stream CBS news and games
  • Library includes past and present CBS series
  • Affordable packages

Cons

  • Offline only available with ad-free plan
  • No 4K or HDR option
  • Minuscule movie selection

How We Reviewed CBS All Access

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20 Hours researched

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13 Articles analyzed

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11 Services compared

CBS All Access Review

CBS has long been one of the Big Three American broadcast television networks. The network launched its video-on-demand (VOD) streaming service, CBS All Access, in 2014.

The CBS All Access app provides live streams of local CBS channels and CBS Sports live — making this a great choice for NFL football fans. On top of Big Three access to its affiliate networks, the streaming service has a robust catalog of classic and present CBS series. Old gems like the original “Hawaii Five-0,” “Star Trek,” and “The Twilight Zone” are sure to take you down memory lane. When it comes to on-demand viewing, the app only offers CBS content and a limited selection of unedited movies, including “Apocalypse Now,” “Catch Me If You Can,” and “The Graduate,” among others.

CBS All Access balances the old and the new with current dramas and sitcoms like “The Big Bang Theory,” the rebooted “Magnum P.I.,” and “Young Sheldon.”

CBS All Access costs $6 per month — but for that price, you’ll have to tolerate a few commercials here and there. Its ad-free package jumps to $10 per month. But ultimately, both provide limited viewing options when compared to the likes of Amazon Prime Video, which will only set you back $9 per month.

CBS All Access Packages at a Glance

Package
Price
Free trial length
Catalog
Ad-free
CBS All Access (Limited Commercials)
$5.99/mo
7 days
12,000+ episodes, live TV, original content
No
CBS All Access (Commercial Free)
$9.99
7 days
12,000+ episodes, live TV, original content
Yes

*Live TV channels include commercials and certain shows have promotional interruptions

How We Evaluated CBS All Access

VOD streaming services come in all shapes and sizes. Popular choices such as Hulu and Netflix provide compelling original titles while also hosting classic and ongoing series from a variety of networks. Then there are competitors who dwell in niche environments, like Sundance Now. These specialty services provide carefully curated libraries for a specific audience.

When evaluating a service that’s an extension of a popular broadcasting network, it’s important to consider a variety of factors, including cost, catalog strength, and features. The CBS All Access app doesn’t provide a conglomeration of series and movies like Hulu, but it does share a similarity in pricing — Hulu’s basic ad-supported plan will set you back $6 per month. Cable replacement YouTube TV costs $50 per month and features more than 70 channels, including CBS, Fox, and ABC. With this in mind, we evaluated CBS All Access based on its value as a supplementary streaming service.

CBS All Access vs. Other Video Streaming Services

CBS All Access
Hulu
Netflix Standard
BritBox
Price
$5.99/mo.
$5.99/mo.
$12.99/mo.
$6.99/mo.
Free trial length
7 days
30 days
30 days
7 days
Simultaneous viewing
2
2
2
2
Streaming quality
720p
Up to 4K
HD
SD and HD
Offline downloads
Select shows with ad-free option
With premium
With app
With app

CBS All Access Features

Watch live sports

Sports fans will appreciate CBS All Access. The ratio between live and on-demand sports bends heavily towards live events. Football fans will be able to watch live NFL matchups — a huge bonus when considering that NFL Game Pass only gets you replays and costs $100 per year. Keep in mind that your location may determine what you can watch. CBS Sports HQ brings you highlights, news, and scores all day — but doesn’t provide coverage of live sporting events.

Download select content

Downloading content for offline viewing is limited to the CBS All Access ad-free plan. Just don’t expect cloud DVR storage. Unfortunately, not all content is available offline, but the app does offer a healthy selection of items you can download for later viewing. You’ll need to download selected content through the app via your Android or iOS device. CBS All Access matches Hulu with its number of downloads, capping at 25 videos, and both services only let you keep recordings for 30 a maximum of days.

Moderate streaming quality

The bane of streaming is a pixelated screen. CBS All Access streams 720p at 60 frames per second, which is actually standard for most streaming services. Competing streaming services like Netflix and Hulu offer premium packages with higher streaming quality, but both of CBS’s packages provide the same exact streaming quality. The extra $4 per month won’t give you a clearer image.

The Bottom Line

Is CBS All Access worth it? That depends on what you’re looking for. The service shines when it comes to streaming all things CBS. With live streaming options like local stations, news, sports, and live NFL action, on top of the full CBS library, you’ll enjoy ultimate access to the network, but not much more. The app is really best for watching CBS content and catching live sports broadcasts carried by the network. If you’re more interested in a diverse selection of movies and series, or just don’t find CBS that enticing, then you might want to consider a service with a broader scope of the content.

About the Authors

Zack Kulm

Zack Kulm Contributing Writer

Zack Kulm is a writer and contributor to soda.com. He covers a variety of topics from entertainment and gaming technologies to pop culture commentary. Kulm received a degree in English from Penn State University and Film Studies from Pittsburgh Filmmakers Institute. He also produces award-winning documentaries.