Paramount is the latest Hollywood studio to launch a subscription streaming TV service in the UK and Europe, in the form of Paramount Plus. offering a rich collection of catalogue titles and movies and a variety of tempting new originals, including the Xbox action spin-off Halo and eagerly awaited new addition to the Star Trek universe, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.
But out of the gate, it’s disappointing home cinema and AV fans who were looking forward to a high-quality source to rival Netflix, AppleTV+, Prime Video and Disney+.
That’s because it arrived without 4K, HDR and Dolby Atmos audio. I’m sure I wasn’t the only new signee scurrying around trying to find a settings menu to unlock Ultra HD and immersive audio. Don’t bother, there isn’t one. If you've invested in one of the best TVs and best soundbars for a home cinema experience, you won't find much of one here.
The brutal truth is the service is resolutely HD. Sure it looks fine, once the adaptive streaming locks to 1080p, but that’s cold comfort when its rivals are knocking streaming AV quality out of the park.
Paramount+ will, of course, talk up its road map, and speak of improvements to come – it has told Cordbusters that 4K, HDR and Dolby Atmos will come "at a later date". But it gets worse, depending on what platform you're using.
And some don't even get surround sound
Paramount+ is free in the UK if you’re a Sky Cinema subscriber – a terrific bonus, to be sure. But watch the service via the app on the Sky platform and you’ll quickly notice something else is missing – namely surround sound.
The Star Trek franchise is one of the big draws for Paramount, which makes Star Trek Discovery one of its flagship shows. You’ll probably remember the brouhaha when Paramount pulled Season 4 from Netflix, where it lived in HDR and Dolby Atmos, only to drop it onto its second-tier streaming platform Pluto, in HD and stereo.
Well, if you stream Discovery on the Sky Q Paramount+ app, it’s still in stereo and looks much the same. That stereo caveat also goes for Halo, and The Man Who Fell from Earth, in case you’re interested.
Yet stream the same shows on the Paramount+ app via a Fire TV stick, and you get full 5.1, on all the aforementioned. Which must be pretty irritating if Sky is your sole entertainment platform. We've asked Sky whether this will change in the future, and will update this article if we hear back.
The greatest disappointment, though? There are no episodes of Survivor! The world’s finest reality competition show, 30+ seasons of duplicitous double dealing, never screened in the UK. And despite being a crown jewel for CBS, it’s AWOL here. Now that really grinds my gears… but you can read our pick of the best shows on Paramount Plus UK for top stuff that is on there, at least.