One of the downsides of subscribing to multiple streaming services is that each of them feel the need to implement their own video player, search functionality, etc. I’d be far happier if they’d use system-standard controls, so that keyboard and remote control shortcuts and other platform-native idioms would work in a predictable fashion. Unfortunately, many of these services don’t seem to value a predictable user experience. Apple TV+ Channels—a way to subscribe to third-party streaming services through Apple, rather than directly—offer a couple of nice features, at generally the same price as subscribing to a service directly.
I’ve recently been revisiting Star Trek: The Next Generation, watching an episode each night as I wind down before bedtime. I’d been a subscriber to Paramount+, mostly for the Star Trek shows, and had been watching TNG there. One evening, I accidentally started a 7-day trial to the Paramount+ via Apple TV+ Channels. Since I’d had a pre-existing subscription via CBS’s own app (prior to the Paramount+ rebranding), I’d never investigated this before.
One unexpected benefit that I really like, and which I haven’t seen mentioned before, is that subscribing this way plays episodes directly in Apple’s own video player. This method of subscribing seems to sidestep Paramount’s player and presents a common set of controls that are native to the Apple platforms. I’ve been watching on the iPad, and the controls respond to standard keyboard shortcuts, as one would hope.
If you prefer to use the Paramount+ app for some reason, you can still use your Apple ID to log in to that app and use its player and search functionality.
iPadOS 15 added some nice widget functionality, and I’ve dedicated a home page to entertainment services, and the large widget provides an easy way to launch the latest unwatched episode, another thing that seems to work better when subscribed via Channels rather than directly.
I canceled my direct subscription with Paramount/CBS and kept the Apple TV+ Channels version, and will consider doing the same in the future with other streaming providers. I like this so much more that I may even consider just canceling providers that don’t offer such functionality, such as Netflix. With so many options for good programming, Netflix losing so many movies and shows in favor of simply carrying their own, and their own inferior in-app experience, I’m finding that Netflix isn’t the 800-pound gorilla that they used to be. I’m inclined to vote with my dollars here.