CBS “All Access” is more like “Some Access” and a Frustrating Experience

CBS All Access Review August 2018

Is “Some Access” worth $10 a month?

I’ve been a paying customer of CBS All Access for many months now, and I’m sharing my experience with the service in case you’re thinking of subscribing and want to see what other people think of it.

As no companies, apps or services are perfect, I would prefer to focus on the positive things, but unfortunately in this case the cons currently outweigh the pros in my opinion.

Pros

Commercial or Ad-Free access to many CBS shows for $10/month

What’s not to like about watching a show without commercial interruptions? It’s the only place I’ve found so far to watch the new and still-current CBS shows without commercials.

Cons

Only “Some Access”, not “All Access” to the complete CBS catalog

While CBS All Access does have a decent number of shows, it’s not “all access” to their full catalog. Currently airing network shows only have a limited number of episodes, usually all in the current season. Even old and classic shows like Perry Mason only has 5 of 9 seasons and is missing many episodes per season. Hardly “all access”.

The CBS apps and website offer a sub-standard and lacking user experience compared to Hulu, Netflix and even Amazon Prime

While every app is different and none of them are perfect, Hulu and Netflix seem to get how important it is to have a good user interface that’s easy to navigate, and accurately keep track of where you left off in any show you’re watching. The app designers at CBS should study Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime, get the best features from them and make their app much more usable.

No separate user profiles

What good is allowing 2 simultaneous streams when you only have one user profile? I don’t know about you, but even with only 2 people in my household, we don’t always watch the same shows. We both have many other shows we watch on our own, and having only one watch list and viewing history clutters up the app. Separate profiles is a far better experience.

No ability to turn off autoplay (at least on Apple TV)

There is currently no option to turn off autoplay on Apple TV. Not everyone wants to have something play automatically. I never do, and it’s very annoying to not have that option. It makes a terrible customer experience when either the next episode or some random show that CBS picks and I don’t want to watch automatically starts to play. I requested that to be added a long time ago, but nobody at CBS seems to care. I think it’s safe to say that I’m not the only person on the planet that does not like or want to be forced to deal with autoplay.

Time For Personnel Change at CBS?

In my opinion, whomever is in charge of the apps and user experience at CBS has been asleep at the wheel and seriously needs to up their game, or CBS needs to get a new person in charge. The ONLY thing CBS All Access currently has going for it is the ability to watch shows on-demand and commercial-free. Pretty much everything else about the experience is not very good.

While CBS does have many good shows, there are plenty of other good shows on other networks to take their place. Having good content is only a part of the picture. Having good and easy to use apps and providing the best customer experience is just as important. Why do you think Hulu and Netflix are the best right now? They provide all of that.

Bottom Line

So the question at least in my case, is it worth it to spend $10 extra a month when the only benefit is commercial-free viewing? We’ll see, especially as they add more original Star Trek and new Twilight Zone shows. I’ve watched all 3 of their exclusive orignals – The Good Fight, Star Trek: Discovery and Strange Angel, and while they were OK, I didn’t like them enough to keep subscribing just for those. For me at some point the frustration with the overall experience overrules the commercial-free aspect and I move on to better services.


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