CBS All Access Review
CBS All Access is the one-stop shop for a backlog of CBS shows, plus original content. Furthermore, viewers can also make the most of local news coverage and live NFL games. Shows will typically become available the day after their original broadcast, and there are complete back catalogs of most current CBS series. The service has plans to expand internationally, beyond the US, Canada and Australia.
The service has an extensive history. It was launched in 2014 and was the first OTT (or over the top) service to be offered by an American broadcast television network. It expanded quickly, becoming available on Roku and Chromecast in 2015. The platform now has not only past and present programs, but live programming of local affiliates in 194 markets. This coverage reaches 92% of the United States in total.
CBS All Access has had a number of successful ventures over the years. For example, when Star Trek: Discovery made its debut on the platform in 2017, they reported a record number of signups. In 2019, the platform announced that Nickelodeon programming would be introduced, and 2020 saw reports that ViacomCBS would launch a larger premium streaming service by combining CBS All Access with titles from Paramount Pictures, Pluto TV and the Domestic Media Networks division.
Pros and Cons
Watch full back catalogs of top CBS shows. Enjoy thorough binge watching with complete seasons of your favourite series.
Stream live TV. Content includes news and NFL games, so sports fans and those wanting the latest current affairs won’t miss out.
Competitive pricing. There isn’t too big of a dent in the bank account each month, which adds to this platform’s appeal.
Only CBS shows are available. Unlike platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, CBS All Access is limited to its own network.
Some TV seasons are incomplete. While many are all there, there are some exceptions, which could prove frustrating.
Technical issues. Some users have complained online that they sometimes have trouble accessing the website or app.
Genres and channels
CBS All Access provides over 12,000 episodes of daytime, primetime and late night CBS shows. There are both shows which air on the network and exclusive CBS All Access Original Series. Live TV is also available for those who want the essentials – a customer’s local CBS station is included, as well as CBSN, CBS Sports HQ and ET Live 24/7.
The main genres on CBS All Access are Primetime, Daytime, News, Kids and Classics. Top shows are also showcased, highlighting the best that the platform has to offer.
As CBS All Access is in direct competition with smaller services such as Sling TV and YouTube TV, you can expect a similar content slate. That said, as the name suggests, the only content you’ll find on this platform comes from CBS itself.
This means that those who are particular fans of specific shows such as Star Trek and Cheers will get a complete fix with this platform, as the full run of these classics are available.
The distinction with the content available on CBS All Access isn’t whether CBS originally aired the show or movie, but whether the network owns it. For example, while CBS could only have ‘last five’ episode rights during the original run of The Big Bang Theory – as Warner Bros had all other rights as its distributor – the network provides shows which used to be owned by Paramount TV.
This is because the shows were made for both CBS and other networks before CBS acquired the program library as part of its split from Viacom. As a result, CBS All Access can provide its subscribers with classic series such as MacGyver, Twin Peaks and CSI: Miami.
What’s more, a selection of films from Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Television, CBS Films, The Samuel Goldwyn Company and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer have been made available on the service, as well as selected kids shows from providers such as WildBrain.
Original series for adults include The Good Fight, Why Women Kill, The Twilight Zone and Star Trek: Picard. There are also series for kids, with examples including Bob The Builder, Danny Phantom and Danger Mouse.
Top CBS All Access shows and movies
60 Minutes – Hour-long coverage of America’s most pressing issues.
CBS Evening News – Breaking news, features and human interest stories.
Face the Nation – Politicians and government leaders join newsmakers to discuss current events.
Star Trek: Discovery – The adventures of the crew on the USS Discovery around a decade before Captain Kirk’s 5 year mission.
The Good Fight – Begins a year after the events in the final episode of The Good Wife and chronicles Diane and Maia rebuilding their careers and lives at a new firm.
NCIS – A group of people with varied and strong personalities work together investigating crimes.
Blue Bloods – Centers around a family of cops, where one is invited to take part in a top secret investigation.
Elementary – Sherlock Holmes travels from London to Manhattan after spending time in rehab.
Man with a Plan – When Adam takes on more parental responsibilities, he learns his children aren’t the little angels he thought they were.
Young Sheldon – Nine year old Sheldon skips four grades at school and struggles with navigating life as an intellectual with a high IQ.
Kevin Can Wait – Chronicling the life of Kevin, a recently retired New York cop and father of three.
The Big Bang Theory – Join science nerds Sheldon, Leonard, Raj and Howard as they struggle to navigate the world of social obligations and relationships.
The Twilight Zone – Episodes combining drama, horror, science fiction, comedy and superstition.
Star Trek – The interstellar adventures of the USS Enterprise.
Hawaii 5-0 – Detectives aim to eliminate crime on the island.
The CBS All Access user interface comprises a navigation menu with a bright blue theme. Available sections include shows, full episodes, live TV, movies and more. If you want to find something specific, you can make use of the search bar towards the right. Additionally, you can access your profile settings on the right hand side of this screen.
While navigating the profile settings menu, you have several options. You can edit your contact information, link your profile to your Facebook and Twitter accounts, or set up email notifications to keep you in the loop. There is also a help portal, which provides a collection of FAQs about the service.
The shows icon, when clicked, directs the user to a list of all the CBS shows which are available. Content headers split the titles up into various genres, such as originals, drama, specials, reality and classics. When it comes to live TV, there’s the local CBS station, CBS for 24/7 news, and CBS SportsHQ. The provider will detect the location you reside in and content may vary according to this factor. There are over 200 different markets with the local channels, so it’s likely you will have access. With the schedule section, you can see what primetime television is scheduled to air over the next fortnight.
CBS All Access also provides users with a mobile app, which launches quickly and prompts users to either sign in or sign up. The menu is similar to that seen with the desktop edition, so you can browse shows, live TV, movies, schedule, shop and settings. The colour theme is blue and black, and ads will be displayed on the bottom of the screen. On the right hand side, there is a Chromecast button for streaming to TV and a search bar for discovering specific content.
A newer feature available with the iOS and Android apps is offline downloads, which makes it similar functionally to Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. All you have to do in order to download content is tap the corresponding icon next to any title which supports the feature. Not all of the shows will be eligible for watching offline, but you will be able to make use of this feature with most of the networks’ original shows.
Within the app settings, you can make changes to your download preferences. One option is toggling the auto-delete upon completion section, and you can also choose whether you will restrict downloads to only be carried out when you’re connected to a Wi-Fi network.
Furthermore, you can decide whether you would prefer SD or HD downloads. If you’re wondering how much space you have left for downloads on your device, there will be a graph displaying the storage distribution. You have an allowance to download up to 25 videos at any single point in time. The same video can also be kept on up to five devices. When it comes to deletion of these videos, CBS will do this either 30 days after download or 48 hours from when playback begins.
At the time of writing, CBS All Access does not have the ability to provide 4K content. The maximum streaming resolution is 1080p. Some titles have support for 5.1 surround sound, but competitors such as Disney Plus have better setups in this regard – with support for HDR, Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision standards.
Generally speaking, to gain a satisfactory level of playback quality, an internet speed of 1.5Mbps or more is required. For Big Brother live streams, 4Mbps is recommended, and speeds of 25Mbps will definitely allow for the highest streaming resolution to play back without any issues.
There are a number of options for those seeking support from CBS All Access. There is a verified Twitter account dedicated to helping customers, and it is active between 9am and 1am ET. Alternatively, there is a help centre which features a web form for customers to fill out so an agent can get in touch via email. A phone number is also available, and the help centre features common questions around topics such as troubleshooting, billing and supported devices.
Both the Limited Commercials and Commercial Free plans come with 1 week free for new customers. This free trial will automatically roll onto the monthly plan when it expires, unless the customer cancels their plan while the trial is still active.
Plans and pricing
The two main CBS All Access plans are Limited Commercials and Commercial Free. Limited Commercials costs $5.99 a month, while Commercial Free is $9.99 a month. The Commercial Free option has more features, such as the ability to download videos and play them offline.
Alternatively, customers can save over 15% by purchasing an annual plan. The Limited Commercials plan is $59.99 a year, while the Commercial Free plan is $99.99 a year.
CBS All Access has an increasing number of competitors in the streaming sphere. As it provides a niche form of content and limited live TV compared to major players such as Disney Plus and Netflix, it may not be as popular. That said, there are plenty of original series on this platform which are arguably just as good as those found on some of its biggest competitors.
The main area CBS All Access doesn’t measure up to its competition is in the 4K and HD content area, as the maximum resolution of 1080p may not be enough for some people. However, for those who want to watch their favourite CBS shows and get a decent sampling of live TV, CBS All Access is a solid choice.
Is CBS All Access worth it?
CBS All Access provides a comprehensive range of content for those who enjoy watching content on this network. From live TV to original programming, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Whether you’re streaming at home or downloading content to view on the go, this platform provides versatile options to suit a range of viewing preferences.
The one week trial gives people time to come to a final decision about whether they want to use the service for longer, and the plans are competitively priced. The interface is easy to navigate and you can either search for content or divide it up into genres and categories to streamline the discovery process. Overall, CBS All Access is a high quality option for streaming service fans.
See our list of best streaming services to find the right streaming service for you.
- Log into your account online.
- Navigate to the Account tab.
- Click on CBS All Access Account.
- Scroll down until you see the button labelled ‘Cancel my subscription.’
- Click on this button and fill out the cancellation form indicating why you want to cancel your account.
- Click on ‘Complete Cancellation’.
- Navigate to the CBS All Access website or download the app.
- Click on the Sign In button, which is located in the top right corner.
- Enter your email and password.
- Click on Forgot Password if you need to reset your details.
- Sign in using Facebook or a TV provider if this is how you access CBS All Access.
- Start watching!
This function does not currently appear to be available.
If you decide to cancel your CBS All Access subscription for a while, then start it up again later, you simply need to log back into your account and select a payment plan. The longer you leave it between cancelling and restarting, the more likely it is you will lose data about favourite shows, watch history etc.
CBS does not provide a refund on a subscription if it is cancelled part way through a billing cycle. Instead, your subscription will remain active until it expires on the day payment would have been taken.
There are a number of other streaming platforms out there, such as Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Disney Plus, Hayu and CuriosityStream. These offer a range of content, such as TV shows, movies and original programming.
CBS All Access can only be used in the geographical locations it has been released in. This means that users can only watch content on the platform in the United States, Canada and Australia.
- Navigate to the CBS All Access website.
- Click on the Try It Free Button.
- Read the introductory information and then click Continue.
- Select a plan, and whether you intend to pay monthly or annually.
- Read the information about account creation and then click Continue.
- Enter your name, email, password, zip code, birth date and gender.
- Enter your payment information.
- Start streaming!