Paramount+ Botched The 2021 Emmys Stream With Hidden Premium Requirement

For the last few weeks, Paramount+ has pulled out all the stops to advertise the ability to stream the 2021 Emmys on the app for free. Unfortunately, the fact that the stream was only available through the premium subscription option wasn't exactly made clear. 

As a result, any tweets from Paramount+ account advertising the livestream were ratioed to hell and back. (For the uninitiated, "ratioed" is in reference to the number of replies or comments dramatically outweighing the likes.) Someone please send an Edible Arrangement to whomever at Paramount+ had to handle all of the vitriolic replies sent their way for doing their job and tweeting out the approved advertising copy.

How Paramount+ Caused Mass Confusion

The confusion comes from the phrasing of Paramount+'s promotion of the Emmys, which was correct in noting the awards ceremony would be available to stream on the app, but failed to mention that the stream was only available for premium subscribers. 

Most frustrated viewers only learned of the requirement of a premium account after tuning in to watch the 73rd Emmys, and finding out that they couldn't. To add to the confusion and irritation, prior to the Emmy stream was the live broadcast of a football game as part of the NFL on CBS programming. The broadcast was available for "Essential Plan" subscribers, the basic package offered by Paramount+. People were reluctantly sitting through the last 15 minutes of a football game and the subsequent after-show discussion, only to have their stream ended with no switch over to the Emmys.

Users reported logging out, refreshing, and continuing to click the "Watch Live” button on the Emmy livestream ad on the Paramount+ homepage to no avail. For a lot of viewers, the link sent them to a CBS documentary on Broadway musicals, and for others (myself included) an error message displayed with the phrasing "NFL Programming is Currently Off-Air. To Stream Your Live, Local CBS Station 24/7, Upgrade to the Paramount+ Premium Plan."

The acknowledgement of NFL programming made it appear the app was trying to auto-play the previous stream, completely exacerbating the already massively annoyed audience's anger as they missed out on Cedric the Entertainer leading a rendition of Biz Markie's "Just a Friend," and two "Ted Lasso" cast members collecting their awards. 

As suspected, the problem was trying to access the stream from the Essential Plan account, and upgrading to Premium solved the problem immediately. It did not, however, fix the two minute lag many users also experienced, forcing plenty to avoid all forms of social media to protect themselves from spoilers.

I hope Paramount+ buys something nice with the extra funds per upgrade they earned tonight. At absolute minimum, they got an extra four dollars from me.