Like many others, I cringed when I first heard that Star Trek: Discovery would only be available on CBS All Access; CBS’s paid online streaming service. However, I decided that I liked what I had seen of the new Star Trek series enough to try CBS All Access. After a combined hour plus of struggling with the service, I can say without a doubt that CBS All Access is terrible.
Just type in the term “CBS All Access” into the Twitter search box and you’ll be see complaints all across the board about buffering and playback issues.
— Tim Duffy (@yoDUFF) October 23, 2017
— Jun Chung (@jun_julyaugust) October 23, 2017
Man, @cbs All Access is a disaster. Unable to stream anything without buffering failures. Wish they’d just gone with iTunes or Netflix…
— Kevin O’Brien (@kobrien82) October 23, 2017
Oh hey, @CBS all access goes out again in the middle of the only reason I have it. Talk about a waste
— Woodlee & Sons (@woodleesons) October 22, 2017
— Matt (@goadguy) October 22, 2017
I tried watching Star Trek on desktop first. My Safari browser told me to download Adobe Flash, which I refuse to do because of all the security issues it has had (including one very recently). On Chrome, after signing in for the first time and hitting the play button on Star Trek, I was met with this message.
Upon clicking on the link to cbs.com, I was taken back to the landing page for the service. When clicking directly on the link to the latest Star Trek episode, I was then immediately looped back to this same page.
Okay, that’s fine. “There’s an app for this,” I thought to myself. The app however, wasn’t any better at all. I kept getting playback glitches, and the screen would randomly change brightness intermittently. When it wasn’t dark, it would just skip frames during an important scene.
If my Internet connection and electronic devices can stream 4K, CBS All Access should be able to stream a 1080p video without playback errors.
As the majority of Netflix and HBO NOW subscribers will tell you, if your ‘over-the-top’ Internet streaming service is good, then people won’t mind paying the monthly premium for it. However, when there’s a lack of interesting content, combined with a bad product, then payment is absurd. This is especially because there are two paid tiers to the service. One with ads, and one without. In an age when even the least computer savvy individual knows how to stream movies and shows for free, streaming services should make sure they don’t make it more difficult to use the legitimate route. CBS really needs to invest more into this service if they expect people to pay for a second month, or even past the free trial.
As mentioned above, CBS All Access is still pretty lacking in terms of quality content. That’s not to say that CBS shows are bad. Granted the network doesn’t have anything at the caliber of Game of Thrones on HBO or even Stranger Things on Netflix. However, the difference is that CBS already airs the majority of these shows on live TV. Anyone with cable can just tune in at the right time to watch, or use other services that overlap in content; especially for shows that have already been released and syndicated.
The majority of people I know personally only have All Access because of Star Trek. Star Trek is the one thing that CBS really has going for the service, so I don’t understand why they won’t go all in and try to make the viewing experience good. If they succeed with this model of only having a popular show air on a paid service, CBS could do this with more premium content in the future. For so much riding on this being a success, I’m really not seeing any effort from a consumer standpoint.
I canceled this service the same night that I signed up for it. While I still have 2 days of free trial time, I can’t see myself using this service again. Especially when I’m paying for other services that have better quality products with better content.