I do not need Paramount Plus. As I wrote in my my hands-on Paramount Plus review it in its first day, Paramount Plus' most alluring facet is "the most reliable resource: nostalgia." Right now, the service is going to gain a lot of eyes from seasons of TV shows that many see as classics, despite being somewhat recent.
Titles such as Nickelodeon's Avatar: The Last Airbender and Keenan & Kel. Excellent sketch comedy shows including Chappelle's Show and Strangers With Candy. Even MTV's The Real World, Beavis and Butt-Head, Daria, and Cribs. But while these shows are not must re-watch TV, I'm still afraid that Paramount Plus is going to wind up being just another monthly payment to my credit cards.
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And that's because if we've learned anything about the world of streaming services, it's that these services will only grow and grow as time goes on. Each month, you'll find out they've gained (and lost) movies or shows that you care about.
But more importantly, the recently-released services of 2020 keep finding ways to make them an undeniable part of our lives.
Paramount Plus will get big movies
At the moment, Paramount Plus has a thin slate of exclusive originals that are must-see TV. Unless you're a SpongeBob fan, or hooked on true crime, you probably won't see the urgency of signing up now.
But that changes this summer. For starters. A Quiet Place Part II will be landing exclusively on Paramount Plus only 45 days after it hits theaters in May. Depending on when you get your Covid vaccinations, that might make Paramount Plus the only place you feel comfortable watching that movie. Later this year, Mission: Impossible 7 will see a similar release schedule, and both are movies I'll be excited to watch — and may not want to leave my house to see.
We know this matters because HBO Max has been doing an even better job with a similar twist. In December 2020, Warner Bros. Pictures announced that a whole slew of its biggest movies — starting with Wonder Woman 1984 and to include The Snyder Cut, Dune and Space Jam 2 — will hit the streaming service on the same day as the currently open theaters.
The HBO Max big movies list is long and wide-ranging, and isn't just for big blockbuster IP like the ones listed above. Both The Little Things and Judas and the Black Messiah debuted on HBO Max, making it a must for anyone looking to be ready for awards season.
They will stream the live events you care about
Television revolves around the live events that create conversation and breed FOMO. Paramount Plus dipped its toes in this water on its first weekend. The Megan and Harry Oprah interview was the talk of the world, and anyone with Paramount Plus could watch it live, thanks to the hundreds of local CBS affiliates in the service (nevermind that Paramount Plus goofed by not having the interview available on-demand thereafter).
Football fans who cut the cord will definitely want Paramount Plus once the new season of NFL live streams kicks off. Those CBS affiliates mean access to games that you can't see on the affordable Sling TV (though Hulu with Live TV and YouTube TV both have CBS), a top pick for people trying to save money without cable. It's also got live soccer matches, with the UEFA Champions League, Europa League and more.
Personally, none of the above matters to me. And I felt the same way about Paramount Plus as I did Peacock, which touted the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games (which the pandemic postponed) as one of the crown jewels of its lineup. But Peacock got me to pay by acquiring my favorite kind of live entertainment: professional wrestling. Yes, Peacock is set to become the exclusive U.S. streaming service of the WWE.
This is the kind of shrewd move that I expect Paramount Plus to fill in its own way. While ViacomCBS doesn't have a pro wrestling promotion under its umbrella the way NBCUniversal has an established connection to WWE, these services will not be satisfied with the set of subscribers they have on launch day. Imagine my chagrin when I discovered that I now needed Peacock after writing it off as "that streaming service for people addicted to The Office."
Paramount Plus will probably find its own Ted Lasso
Finally, let's talk about the curious case of Apple's streaming service. Right now, I'm one of many active subscribers who isn't actually paying for the service, as Apple won't let me pay for Apple TV Plus.
For a while, Apple TV Plus had a series of shows that earned modest amounts of buzz. Dickinson is cool, I'd hear a friend say. I eventually found out that The Morning Show got pretty interesting by its finale. And Mythic Quest and Beastie Boys Story both proved enjoyable, but none of these shows compare to Apple TV Plus' biggest trophy.
Ted Lasso, a series about an American football coach (portrayed by Jason Sudeikis), was one of the best (if not the very best) new shows of 2020. It's so winning and funny and wholesome that I have broken one of my personal rules: I bother people about watching it. I don't like being that guy who says "You need to watch Ted Lasso," but you need to watch Ted Lasso.
Even when nobody needs any particular show or movie they haven't watched, it's such a good program that I will wave its flag til I get told to stop. Ted Lasso is so good, in fact, that Apple TV Plus renewed it for not just a second season but a third as well.
And if even Apple — which doesn't have a core competency in film or TV — can get an exclusive show so good that I'll playfully bully friends to sign up to watch, I bet Paramount Plus will be able to do the same. It could be the promised new series from Avatar Studios, the folks who made the hits Avatar The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra. That's the most likely bet at the moment, as I don't see the announced Frasier or iCarly revivals being best-of-year material.
I'm sure Paramount Plus would rather have its own The Mandalorian or WandaVision, or a Tiger King or Cobra Kai. I'm just not sure they're going to.
Prepare for Paramount Plus
Paramount Plus is just getting started. And while it may seem easy to write off if you ignored its predecessor CBS All Access, the transition to Paramount Plus proves that you're going to give it your attention soon. It began as a service mostly with new original Star Trek shows, and now it's got a whole lot of other, older shows people adore.
More exclusives — the biggest currency in entertainment — will arrive in due time. Avatar The Last Airbender will probably leave Netflix some day soon, and become exclusive to Paramount Plus, much like how The Office left the big red streaming machine for Peacock. This is all to say that you should keep some room in your streaming budget for Paramount Plus' entry-level $4.99 per month package.
My advice? I keep a spreadsheet with all of my monthly-recurring payments tracked, and I have a column to note what I loved this month on Disney Plus, Hulu, HBO Max and Apple TV Plus. This is also why I advise thinking twice about annual plans. You may save a month or two's payments, but I'd rather have more control over my monthly expenditures. So when it comes time, I can remember I didn't use a service enough to make it worth my time, and free up room in my budget.
Because Paramount Plus may not have Avengers: Endgame, but like Thanos, it is inevitable.
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