Skip to content

Paramount+ Subscription Plans Compared: Which Option Should You Choose?

Paramount+ entered the increasingly crowded streaming market in 2021, rebranding from the CBS All Access service. The platform combines shows, movies, sports, news and exclusive originals from across ViacomCBS properties.

With intensifying competition from services like Netflix, Hulu and Disney+, Paramount+ seeks to attract subscribers by offering depth and variety at a reasonable price point.

For consumers, a key choice emerges – Paramount+ Essential or Premium? The streaming service provides two main subscription tiers catering to different needs and budgets.

This comprehensive guide will compare Paramount+ plans across all aspects so you can determine the best option. Let‘s dive in.

Paramount+ Essential vs. Premium: Key Differences At-a-Glance

Here is a high-level overview highlighting distinctions between Paramount+ Essential and Premium plans:

Feature Essential Premium
Monthly Price $4.99 $9.99
Annual Price $49.99 $99.99
Ad Frequency Limited ads Fewer ads
Video Quality Up to 1080p Up to 4K HDR
Offline Downloads
Profiles Per Account 1 6
Simultaneous Streams 1 3
Content Library Curated selection Full catalog
Showtime Included
Local CBS Station

Essential provides streamlined access at the lowest price, while Premium piles on more content, features, concurrent streams, and enhanced visuals for nearly double the monthly cost.

But this high-level comparison only scratches the surface. Let‘s analyze pricing, features, content libraries, ads, and more between plans to help determine what‘s the better buy for your needs.

Comparing Subscription Costs

The exact worth of Paramount+ Premium vs. Essentialcomes down to how their prices align with what‘s offered. First, a breakdown of billing options:

Paramount+ Essential Pricing

  • $4.99 per month
  • $49.99 per year (saves 16% vs. monthly)

Paramount+ Premium Pricing

  • $9.99 per month
  • $99.99 per year (saves 16% vs. monthly)

So Premium gives you far more for just $5 extra per month. But dual annual options provide ways to save by paying everything upfront.

Over one year as a Premium subscriber, you would spend $120 more than with Essential. Extend that to two years, and the gap widens to $240 in added costs for Premium.

The numeric pricing differences seem clear. Next let‘s weigh value.

Evaluating Plan Value Based on Features

Raw subscription prices only reveal so much. You also have to consider what capabilities and viewing experience each tier enables. Let‘s compare key offering differences:

Advertising Frequency


  • Limited but regular ad breaks
  • Around 4-5 minutes total per hour


  • Minimal ads
  • Ad-free on vast majority of on-demand content
  • Only live programming and select shows have ads

If seeing fewer ads holds high importance, Premium clearly justifies its higher costs. But lighter ad loads on Essential may satisfy those bothered less by commercials.

Supported Devices

Essential and Premium work across the same Paramount+ supported devices, including:

  • Smartphones and tablets (Android and iOS)
  • Smart TVs (Samsung, LG, Vizio, Sony)
  • Media players (Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV)
  • Gaming consoles (PS4, Xbox)
  • Web browsers

You can also download the Paramount+ app directly on phones, TVs, or tablets for quick access rather than watching through a web browser.

So no major differences exist here in terms of accessing Paramount+.

Video Quality


  • Up to 1080p HD video


  • Up to 4K Ultra HD and HDR video

Premium once again edges out Essential, with support for crisper 4K streams instead of maxing out at 1080p. But for smaller screens like phones, the boost in pixels matters less.

Offline Viewing

❌ No offline downloads

✅ Download shows and movies to phones/tablets

Having full access to Paramount+‘s mobile downloads makes Premium far stickier. You can save content while connected to WiFi then watch ad-free during commutes, flights, or anywhere without signal. Essential unfortunately lacks offline options entirely.

Concurrent Streams


  • Only 1 simultaneous stream


  • 3 concurrent streams per account

Similar to ad frequency, Premium pulls ahead here for households with multiple viewers looking to watch at once. Essential allows just a single stream, causing family friction over who controls the TV!

User Profiles


  • 1 profile per account


  • Up to 6 customizable profiles

With support for six unique watchlists and recommendations, Premium better suits diverse viewing tastes in a household. Essential only permitting one bundled profile makes curating suggestions harder.

Hopefully contrasting plan capabilities makes the value differences clearer. Next we‘ll compare vastness of content library.

Content Catalog Comparison

Beyond features, a core factor in assessing Paramount+ plan value is the actual substance – how much shows, movies etc. you can access. Let‘s scrutinize each tier‘s content libraries.

Paramount+ Essential Catalog At-a-Glance

The Essential plan grants you access to Paramount+‘s "core catalog":

  • TV: Big hits from networks like CBS, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon
  • Movies: Paramount Pictures film collection
  • Sports: Live NFL, UEFA Champions League, etc.
  • News & Entertainment: CBS News, CBS Sports HQ, ET Live

Total size = over 30,000 pieces of content

This gets you plenty of shows and movies to watch from ViacomCBS properties old and new. However, the full Premium catalog significantly expands your choices.

Paramount+ Premium Catalog At-a-Glance

A Premium subscription unlocks Paramount‘s complete streaming catalog:

  • All Essential plan content
  • Showtime programming: New hits, legacy series, documentaries, specials and live boxing/MMA
  • Even more TV & movies: Everything from comedy classics to award-winning dramas to action flicks
  • Local CBS live station: Watch in real time with news, sports, special events

Total size = over 75,000 pieces of content

So Premium more than doubles your choices for bingeing. Below charts better showcase the content scale differences.

Paramount Plus content comparisons

Premium Subscribers gain access to 2.5x more total content between the full ViacomCBS catalogs and addition of Showtime.

For perspective, some of Paramount+‘s most-watched programs that Essential doesn‘t contain include:

  • Dexter
  • Ray Donovan
  • The Good Fight
  • Billions
  • Yellowstone
  • NCIS
  • Criminal Minds

Losing access to that caliber of programming hurts. But Essential still delivers desirable shows itself like:

  • Star Trek Discovery
  • Seal Team
  • Why Women Kill
  • Kamp Koral: SpongeBob‘s Under Years
  • The Daily Show with Trevor Noah

So you choose between top-tier content at a premium price or streamlined selections for cheap. We‘ll dig deeper into aligning plans with viewing habits next.

Which Plan Is Better Based on Your Viewing Habits?

With costs and capabilities compared, which Paramount+ tier proves superior comes down to individual viewing habits and priorities.

Casual Viewers

For those who casually stream just a few shows or movies per month, Essential gets the job done cheaply. Even losing access to wider catalogs may not matter if you predominantly want to watch:

  • NFL and other live sports
  • A rotating mix of Paramount movie nights
  • A few ViacomCBS hits like Paw Patrol or Survivor

Saving 75% monthly for a lighter but satisfactory stream diet beats paying double. Essential satisfies casual cravings without overspending on unused content.

Frequent Binge Watchers

However, if you devour numerous episodes daily across genres, a Premium sub pays dividends long term. Key perks like:

  • Binging premium series from Showtime ad-free
  • Enjoying CBS classics on demand like CSI, Frasier or Cheers
  • Never losing access to new releases from MTV, Comedy Central and more

…combine into a viewing utopia tailored for diehard TV/movie aficionados.

Removing ads and expanding choices prevent streaming fatigue. For just $5 more each month vs. Essential, power users receive far more utility justified by their sheer hours spent watching.

Families With Kids

Paramount+ also appeals uniquely to families with children thanks to Nickelodeon‘s strong presence. If your household regularly enjoys:

  • New SpongeBob episodic adventures
  • Classic Nick toons from the ‘90s and early ‘00s
  • Kids game shows like Double Dare or other wacky comedies

…then again, Premium unlocks 2x more age-appropriate content to meet viewing demands. Shows get consumed rapidly with 3+ kids!

Which Plan Wins Out Overall?

Weighing everything – costs, features, content libraries – Premium appears the superior option IF you‘ll actually use the upgrades. The full catalog and Showtime access justify 2x higher pricing for frequent streamers.

However, casual viewers who watch sporadically may find awesome value in Essential‘s basics-only approach costing 75% less. $5 extra per month for tens of thousands of untouched choices doesn‘t compute.

The below table summarizes alignment recommendations between plans and viewing habits:


Hopefully contrasting plans to usage tendencies helps guide your decision! Next let‘s peek at Paramount+‘s trajectory amidst streaming wars.

Paramount+ Performance & Outlook

Before subscribing, you may wonder – how does Paramount Plus actually perform? And what does its future hold competing with high-profile services?

Key Paramount+ Milestones Thus Far

As reference, Paramount Plus reached several notable benchmarks over its first years in operation:

  • Attracted nearly 40 million subscribers globally by mid-2022
  • Accounts for nearly one quarter of ViacomCBS‘s over $15 billion in annual revenue
  • Contributes estimated profits exceeding $3 billion as highest-margin segment

Impressively, over 35% of Paramount+‘s subscriber base originates outside the US. Fueling international expansion boosts Paramount‘s longevity prospects amidst rising domestic competition.

Momentum also shows little sign of slowing in 2023 and beyond…

What‘s Next for Paramount+?

Paramount+ looks to build on successes by:

  • Launching cheaper ad-supported tier to attract cost-conscious streamers
  • Releasing BIG original titles annually like Tulsa King starring Sylvester Stallone
  • Inking major streaming rights deals for exclusive movies like Top Gun: Maverick
  • Expanding globally across Latin America, Europe, Asia
  • Airring highly-anticipated reunions – like Inside Job bringing together The Office‘s Rainn Wilson and John Krasinski

Experts also predict ViacomCBS will eventually fold Showtime completely into Paramount+ to consolidate subscribers under one superior streaming package.

Competitive Landscape Outlook

Even amidst rising competition, Paramount+ holds strong positioned to capture streaming TV share for years to come thanks to:

  • Massive content vault – over 140,000 TV episodes and 2,500 movies
  • Iconic franchises – Star Trek, SpongeBob, South Park
  • Global news (CBS), live sports (NFL & UEFA)
  • Kid-friendly focus – representingparent‘s best entertainment value

The service keeps gaining ground by offering depth that appeals widely at affordable pricing.

While newcomers like Disney+ and HBO Max may grab more short-term buzz, Paramount+ strives for the long play as an entertainment staple – and the numbers show it‘s working.

FAQs About Paramount+ Essential vs. Premium

Still evaluating which Paramount+ plan works best? Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:

Does Paramount+ offer a free trial?

Yes! New Paramount+ users can sign up for a 7-day free trial of either Essential or Premium. Just remember to cancel before getting charged if you don’t want to continue the subscription.

Can I watch NFL games on Paramount+?

Yes, both Paramount+ plans provide live NFL action, including out-of-market preseason games, national broadcasts, and 24/7 NFL Network.

However, DirecTV NFL Sunday Ticket provides the most complete package.

How many devices support Paramount+ downloads?

Paramount+ Premium lets you download shows and movies on up to 4 mobile devices connected to your account and 30 titles locally per device.

What‘s the difference between Paramount Network and Paramount Plus?

Paramount Network is a traditional cable TV channel owned by ViacomCBS, while Paramount+ is a direct-to-consumer digital streaming service requiring paid subscription for access.

Is Yellowstone on Paramount+?

No. Yellowstone streams exclusively through rival service Peacock. But Paramount+ becomes the exclusive Yellowstone streaming home starting in 2025 once licensing deals expire.

Choose the Best Paramount+ Plan For You

Hopefully this head-to-head comparison of Paramount+ Essential vs. Premium paints a complete picture of similarities and differences – including costs, features, content libraries, restrictions, and more.

If you casually stream, then Essential should satisfy Paramount cravings at the lowest available pricing. Just temper expectations around library limitations and ads.

However, for consistent binge watching, Premium‘s massive catalogs, fewer ads, 4K HDR visuals, offline downloads and other perks justify the added costs for heavier usage.

At the end of the day though, choosing comes down to your personal preferences. Avoid analysis paralysis by going with your gut! And leverage the free trials to inform your decision before committing.

Did this help detail what plan you‘ll subscribe to? Let me know in the comments – happy streaming!