Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Streaming Video Report Cards for 2021: Part 4

After I gave out high marks last time for free streamers Crackle and Tubi, it's time to get grumpy again. Remember my complaint about Amazon Prime and IMDB? We have a similar situation with CBS Viacom (Or is it Viacom CBS?) and its two main streaming video on demand services, Paramount Plus and Pluto.

Pluto is the free, ad-driven offering that has bulked up its library in the last couple years. It now has a robust selection of on-demand programming to go along with its seemingly endless array of themed 24/7 live-streaming channels. Sounds good, right? And it's all free!

Yet if you look a little closer, it's not quite as good as it looks. Some of the streaming channels only have limited selections of the series they have, sometimes the shows are syndicated cuts (that is, chopped up for commercials), and, as I found out to my horror in 2021, it even happens on the On Demand part of the site.  Three's Company on demand consists of the hacked-up versions of the show, unfortunately.

But again, it's FREE! And this is the only legit place you can see any episodes of The Fugitive streaming.

Wait, though, why is Pluto the only place you can see some episodes of The Fugitive, plus other shows like Webster (How many times have those shows been linked before?) when its parent company has a big pay service it is promoting? Well, I guess the strategy is to give all the library content to the free, ad-crammed service, and save recent reality show reruns for the "prestige" outfit.

Paramount Plus added very little of interest to vintage TV fans in 2021, even while it was adding such material to Pluto. There is some crossover, with shows like Perry Mason showing up on Pluto as well as Paramount Plus, but, you know, last I checked, PP didn't even have the whole run of the show, but you know who did? IMDB-TV!

If you're not a fan of Star Trek or a handful of other franchises the company pushes, there isn't much to be hopeful about here. Pluto is a mixed bag, but all things considered, it's getting better. If I subscribed to Paramount Plus, though, I'd be really peeved that so much stuff was only on the free service.

Paramount Plus: F (Last year: D+ as CBS All Access): The change in branding did not signal a wave of interesting content. Unfortunately, this one has some decent material, but most of it has been there for years. Classic TV-wise, this earns a solid F for effort.
Pluto: B (Last year A): The Three's Company thing and the strategy of Paramount really annoyed me, so I can't give it an A again, but really it had a decent year and is about what it was in 2020 but with more stuff, and that's a good thing.

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