‘Discovery’ is here; should you pay for CBS All Access to watch it?
Star Trek: Discovery is here. (Go read my review of the first two episodes, but beware spoilers.) Should you pay for CBS All Access to watch it? If you’re in the United States, the answer to that question depends on one thing: Do you want to see Star Trek: Discovery as it is released? I do, for obvious reasons. I am reviewing the show and I want to discuss it in real time with my readers. Even if I weren’t reviewing it or discussing it online, I’d probably want to see it on the release schedule to avoid spoilers. I’m one of those suckers CBS is exploiting.
Your mileage may vary. You might not care. If you don’t care, you can and should adjust your thinking. You could wait until all the episodes are available and then binge it during a trial period or pay for a single month. If you can hold off, then by all means do so. You could also skip Discovery altogether or wait until it’s finally released another way. That’s certainly an option.
I will say this: I hate that I have to pay for CBS All Access in order to see this show. I hate that I have to use it at all. I will do it, but I don’t like it.
But that’s capitalism. CBS has a product that people are willing to pay for and they are charging accordingly. That’s the way it works.
But in the absence of a lot more original compelling content, I do wonder how CBS can possibly think this is a sustainable business model. The second I’m not watching Discovery I will unsubscribe. I won’t be the only one.
It really doesn’t help that the CBS app does not make this a pleasant experience. I signed up for the ad-supported $5.99 version of All Access. I have the CBS app for my Android phone and I stream it through my Google Chromecast which is attached to my TV. (I say all this as an acknowledgement that your experience may differ based on your apps and/or devices.)
My conclusion: I hate the ad version of the CBS app. Why? Because the stream experience is not as good as either (1) a live CBS broadcast or (2) Netflix, the gold standard of streaming. And I hate that I have to pay for an inferior presentation compared to what I could get on my cable box.
The reasons this sucks:
1. I had a few instances where the stream started "buffering" and completely froze for 30 seconds while displaying a rotating disc.
2. I had many instances where the image froze for about one second while the audio continued, like some sort of weird video stutter. This happened probably at least a dozen or more times while watching the episode.
3. At one point, I needed to rewind to catch some subtitled dialogue I missed. When you do this, the app forces you to watch several commercials. If you rewind slightly too far, to before an act break, the stream will play ads, then resume to the point just before the act break, then play you the commercials you already saw when you get to the act break again. And it’s not one or two commercials; it’s four or five. And it’s awful and infuriating.
I realize these are trivial First World Problems. But this is a stupid way to watch a TV show that should’ve just been put on CBS. It’s not even just the money grab that irks me; it’s the inferior way of consuming the product. I should not have to watch commercials I already watched just because I rewind the show to hear dialogue I missed. It’s BS.
Adding to my white-hot fury as I attempted to watch/stream this show was the fact that I had three power outages (all lasting less than one second) at my house in the course of the two hours I tried to watch this. Every time I had an outage, I had to wait nearly five minutes while my cable box and/or modem rebooted. Granted, this was not the fault of CBS, but I’m going to blame them anyway. Fate did not want me to watch this show, it would seem.
CBS All Access plus power outages: One star.