Netflix has changed the way that the entertainment industry does business. Its success has inspired services like Sony’s Crackle and Hulu, and even caused Amazon to try and compete with its Amazon Prime Instant Video platform. Netflix and Amazon are changing the way content is created, as showcased by this Verge article.
However, it’s not just content creation that it’s affecting; it’s also changing the way that consumers prefer to view content. We now expect on-demand and no commercials for $9/month. Some companies are trying to adapt, offering apps for iPhones/iPads, Android phones/tablets, and set top boxes/streaming sticks in order to give people a similar experience and still remain relevant.
CBS’ contribution to this fad is CBS All-Access: an on-demand service similar to Netflix, but exclusively has ‘access’ to CBS shows both past and present. For example, they have access to every episode of Big Bang Theory AND every episode of all the Star Trek series.
The sheer amount of content is pretty staggering. It was odd to see shows like Caroline in the City and Nash Bridges available. I mean, this has pretty much everything you can think of.
I have tried the app on a Kindle Fire, my Android phone (Nexus 6) and a Roku 3 TV streaming box. All 3 experiences were very similar: hardly any glitches or bugs, but the experience is not nearly as seamless as the one Amazon, Hulu, or Netflix provides.
The main problem with the platform is that although you pay $6/month for the service, you still get inundated with ads. It’s like Hulu on steroids: when Hulu did have commercials (you can still get a lower tier plan that makes you watch commercials) you would be forced to sit through 2 ads per commercial break, and they were pretty harmless ads. CBS requires you to sit through as many as 5 ads during the normal break spots. During one episode of Supergirl I was forced to sit through a total of 14(!) different ads. This is obscene considering that CBS is a public access channel to begin with, and then I’m forking out $6/month on top of that. I realize there is a cost to maintain and host the content, but the ads really are too much.
CBS All-Access is a competent service with tons of quality content, but because of services like Netflix and Hulu and Amazon, I expect to not have to sit through ads when I pay a monthly fee for something. I’m giving it a thumbs down, although they are offering a free 2-month trial to Chromecast owners if you want to give it a shot yourself (instructions are here on how to redeem the free two months).