Save your money, don’t bother with Paramount Plus UK, at least not yet…
Well over a year after it debuted in the US, Paramount Plus finally arrived in the UK today (June 22) after a splashy launch and a promise of a glut of exclusive shows and movies.
Initially, you can try the service out free of charge for seven days, then you have the option to purchase the service for £6.99 per month or £69.90 for the year. For comparison, £6.99 is the same price as Netflix’s basic rate and a pound cheaper than both Disney Plus and Prime Video.
So, is it worth it? Well, after a comprehensive look around the streaming service and rating the array of movies and shows on offer thus far, I’d have to say no, it’s not – at least not yet. Why? Well, I’ll explain…
A limited offering…
For their launch offering of shows, Paramount has leveraged a range of shows which have big followings in the US, but limited or no profile in the UK thus far.
Yellowstone is huge, one of the biggest shows in the US, but doesn’t have much of a profile here, something partly down to Paramount’s decision to put it out on their rather-unloved UK channel the Paramount Network. We’ve not seen 1883, it’s Sam Elliot-led prequel yet, but it’s unlikely to appeal to any outside of the show’s fanbase.
Halo, the very expensive video game adaptation, has been on the US version of Paramount+ for months now, and anybody who is crafty with a VPN, as you might expect an audience built on the popularity of an online game to be, will have seen it already.
There’s Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber, another Showtime offering, which Paramount has actually put up for free via Pluto TV. It’s gripping, sure, but it’s been out there for a while now.
Likewise, Mayor of Kingstown, the Jeremy Renner and Kyle Chandler drama about a family who are big in the prison business, or The Man Who Fell To Earth, the TV sequel to the classic David Bowie movie, have both been out for a while. Even lavish new period drama The First Lady, which brings together Viola Davis, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Gillian Anderson to chronicle the personal and political lives of three women who have adopted the titular role at different points in American history, has already been on US TV for some time.
There are no genuine exclusives; Paramount is planning on a few, with a whole bespoke European slate, but it would have been a big boost for the debut if it had a couple ready to go.
Elsewhere, it’s belt and brace stuff, solid dramas like Your Honor, Billions, and The Affair. They’re all good, but they’ve all had their spell in the zeitgeist. There’s some good older stuff – Twin Peaks, Deadwood – but it’s nothing that hasn’t been widely available before.
What about movies?
When it comes to movies, there’s more depth, with a huge chunk of the Miramax catalogue (of which Paramount owns just under half), as well as a lot of Paramount’s own movies.
But, presumably due to existing licensing agreements, lots of Paramount’s recent hits aren’t there. There’s no A Quiet Place or its sequel, no Sonic or Sonic 2, no Baywatch, no Annihilation, hell, only three of the six Mission: Impossible movies on the platform and no Top Gun.
There’s a very good collection if you’re a fan of dark 1990s action-thrillers, with The Talented Mr Ripley, Kiss The Girls, and all the Jack Ryan movies on the platform, and a huge array of romantic comedies including Mean Girls, How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days, and absolute classic Clueless.
All the exclusives are TV spin-offs, a feature-length Ray Donovan and all the South Park movies; in fact, the only original is comedy Jerry and Marge Go Large, which sees Bryan Cranston and Annette Benning play a married couple who find a way to game the lottery and use the money to revitalise their downtrodden hometown.
It’s a wide, but uninspiring initial offering.
What if I love Star Trek?
Then you should subscribe immediately, this minute. With the exception of the recent movie trilogy and some of the most recent shows like Picard and Lower Decks, everything Star Trek is here, from the vintage beginnings to the new adventure Strange New Worlds.
So, all in all?
My advice? Wait a while before giving Paramount Plus a go in the UK. In a few months’ time, when the bespoke European slate begins to hit the platform and when there’s a second season of Yellowjackets and new runs of Billions and City On A Hill to enjoy, then it might be worth subscribing.
Right now, for quality shows, it can’t compete with Apple TV Plus, for quantity, it can’t hold a candle to Netflix, and it doesn’t have the added benefits that come with Prime Video. Maybe in time it’ll become an essential streaming service, but right now, when we’re all having to make tough choices on what to spend money on, my advice is skip it.