CBS All Access - Stereo Only?

Todd Erwin

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Just started a free trial of CBS All Access. Roku is offering a free 90-day trial with purchase of a new device.

Hate to say this, but the fact that the service is only PCM stereo and NOT Dolby Digital 5.1 is a real dealbreaker for me. Per the three service reps I have spoken with (the first one was totally lost on what I was asking, so he transferred me to CNET), apparently the service DID offer Dolby Digital 5.1 at one point, but discontinued across all devices.

How sad.....
 

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I’m not sure that’s entirely accurate about not offering 5.1

On my older 2013 model AppleTV, I only got stereo playback during Season One of Discovery in 2017. It frankly sounded awful.

I now have an AppleTV 4K, and Season Two of Discovery streamed in 5.1. Tremendous improvement over season one. But I never went back to the older episodes to see if those files were 2.0 on their end or if it was just my device that was playing 2.0.
 

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CBS All Access definitely started originally broadcasting in 2.0. Sometime during the first season of Discovery I believe it went to 5.1. I’ve only used my Apple TV 4K.
 
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Josh Steinberg

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That’s a bummer, and sadly seems to coincide with what Jeff posted above about which devices do what.

It’s just not a well designed app from my experience. For what they charge, they really should have figured this out before launching.
 
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Todd Erwin

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That’s a bummer, and sadly seems to coincide with what Jeff posted above about which devices do what.

It’s just not a well designed app from my experience. For what they charge, they really should have figured this out before launching.
I'll be cancelling when my 90 day trial ends. We are binging season 2 of Discovery now. I'll watch season one of Twilight Zone.
 
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Josh Steinberg

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I shouldn’t have needed to purchase a new streaming box to get 5.1 for All Access. That wasn’t the reason I bought it, but it’s crazy to me because my old Apple TV had no problem doing 5.1 on everything else. Only the Amazon Prime and CBS All Access apps were crippled by their makers to force 2.0 playback on that device.

You’re asking people to pay a fee for your service, and then choosing what kind of service to provide after you’ve taken the money. There’s no technical reason why 5.1 won’t work on those devices. It’s disgraceful.

I was extremely unhappy with the CBS All Access app during Season 1 of Discovery. The technical quality was so far below every other app I used at the time, and yet, they charged as much or more for less content. They’re gonna need to get better at this, and fast.

Disney+ is about to come out with 4K UHD streaming and only costs $7 a month and is commercial free. All Access is $10 a month to get it commercial free and quality is dependent on device choice and content is extremely limited. CBS can’t create new content overnight, they probably can’t lower the price much, so at the least, they need to fix their technical crap.
 

Todd Erwin

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That's pretty much what I told the reps at CBS. Problem is, the last one I spoke with seemed completely happy with the built in speakers on her TV. And that may be where part of the problem lies.

Hell, even the free Roku Channel streams some content in 5.1..... In these times, I can somewhat expect a free steaming service (even a TV Everywhere app like ABC or NBC) to stream in stereo, but a paid app in which most of its newer content can be viewed OTA for free with better audio than on its paid service is pathetic. Hulu is almost the same, but at least publishes on their site what devices support 5.1 audio.
 
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Todd Erwin

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So, in utter frustration after the three reps refused to transfer me to someone much more knowledgeable in the technical aspects of the service, and telling me that that level of support can only be reached thru e-mail, I filled out there support request form online and asked the following question:

What video resolution and audio formats are supported and on what devices?
This morning, I received the following response:

Thank you for contacting CBS All Access! We are sorry for the inconvenience this may have caused you.
We stream standard throughout the video quality and the audio quality as well.
I responded back with the following:
Dear CBS All Access Customer Care:

I asked a rather specific question: "What video resolution and audio formats are supported and on what devices?"

Your response of "We stream standard throughout the video quality and the audio quality as well" does nothing to answer that question.

In fact, it leads me to believe that CBS All Access streams in Standard Definition and monaural audio, devaluing your service even more.

So, let me ask this another way.

What video resolution (1080p, 1080i, 720p, 480p, 480i) should I expect to receive on my Roku Premiere (model #3920X)?

What audio format (PCM 2.0 stereo, Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1) should I expect to receive on my Roku Premiere (model #3920X)?

Are there any devices your app is available on that support a maximum resolution of 1080p and Dolby Digital 5.1?

Sincerely,

Todd Erwin
I am curious what there response will be.....
 

Todd Erwin

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I shouldn’t have needed to purchase a new streaming box to get 5.1 for All Access. That wasn’t the reason I bought it, but it’s crazy to me because my old Apple TV had no problem doing 5.1 on everything else. Only the Amazon Prime and CBS All Access apps were crippled by their makers to force 2.0 playback on that device.

You’re asking people to pay a fee for your service, and then choosing what kind of service to provide after you’ve taken the money. There’s no technical reason why 5.1 won’t work on those devices. It’s disgraceful.
Unfortunately, I don't see that mentality changing any time soon. I'm still waiting for Netflix to release an update to get Atmos on their shows and movies on my Rokus and Sony UHD Blu-ray players, and still miffed that I'll never be able to get Vudu in 4K on my Sony UHD Blu-ray player. Both of my 4K-capable Roku's can provide Atmos sound on both Amazon Prime and Vudu, so why not Netflix?

What I really fear is that we may see, as the streaming wars begin to take shape, device exclusives. We do know that we will see that to some extent when Apple TV+ launches, first on iOS devices and later model Samsung TVs, with other manufacturers to follow after Samsung's exclusivity expires. Don't forget, Netflix's streaming service was originally an XBOX exclusive until someone at either Netflix or Sony realized a small loophole that Netflix could be on Playstation 3 consoles as long as the app did not physically reside on the device (hence the need for a DVD-Rom) until Microsoft's exclusive deal expired.
 
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Todd Erwin

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So, I was playing around with CBS All Access this morning, and found that several movies can be played back in 5.1 on my Rokus (Dr. No, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Enemy at the Gates), but TV shows are all in stereo.

Which leads me to believe that quite possibly CBS removed "access" to the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio tracks on all of their TV shows that may have been there previously.
 

Josh Steinberg

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Which leads me to believe that quite possibly CBS removed "access" to the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio tracks on all of their TV shows that may have been there previously.
I can try to double check that later. Last night, I rewatched the second episode from season two of Discovery at around 3am, and it played back in 5.1.
 

Josh Steinberg

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I tried over a Chromecast and that was stereo, too. Must be an Apple TV exclusive?
Here's what Jeff has posted earlier from the Trekcore website - I don't have a Chromecast so I can't speak to how it works. Again, it is a poorly designed app.


I'm not sure how accurate this is, but I found this:

"The following devices now support 5.1 sound with CBS All Access:

  • Apple TV Gen. 4 + 4K (tvOS)
  • Apple TV Gen. 3 (Legacy)
  • Roku (Gen. 3+) [Broken by a Fall 2018 update]
  • Chromecast
  • Fire TV (Gen. 2+)
  • Android TV"
 

Todd Erwin

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Here's what Jeff has posted earlier from the Trekcore website - I don't have a Chromecast so I can't speak to how it works. Again, it is a poorly designed app.
Yes. I agree it is a poorly designed app. Casting for movies is currently broken (they are supposedly working on it). The link to TrekCore links back to a page on CBS All Access that indicates 5.1 audio is for movies only. I give up at this point. This will all bite them in the ass as the streaming wars heat up. With all the fragmentation that is about to happen, we will likely see several of these services fall hard and either go bankrupt or merge with an existing service. Or try to send and themselves. It would not surprise me if CBS reverts back to a TV Everywhere app in the next year or so.
 
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Josh Steinberg

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Yes. I agree it is a poorly designed app. Casting for movies is currently broken (they are supposedly working on it). The link to TrekCore links back to a page on CBS All Access that indicates 5.1 audio is for movies only. I give up at this point. This will all bite them in the ass as the streaming wars heat up. With all the fragmentation that is about to happen, we will likely see several of these services fall hard and either go bankrupt or merge with an existing service. Or try to send and themselves. It would not surprise me if CBS reverts back to a TV Everywhere app in the next year or so.
There's a reason that I'm only willing to subscribe for the exact length of the Star Trek season, and then cancel immediately after it's over. The app isn't good enough, and the rest of the content isn't good enough, to justify spending $10 a month. It'll be even harder to justify if Disney+ is able to change the landscape by resetting everyone's expectations. If Disney+ succeeds and is able to establish that $7 is the correct monthly price for unlimited access to dozens of original shows and films along with hundreds of catalog films and thousands of catalog TV episodes, all commercial free, in 4K UHD when the content was created in that format, there simply won't be a market left for services like CBS All Access to be asking for $10 for a glitchy app that provides different levels of quality to different users without warning.

And I'm loving Star Trek Discovery and their plans to make many more Trek shows, so I really don't want to see all of that lost because they're cheaping out on the tech side.
 

Todd Erwin

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And I'm loving Star Trek Discovery and their plans to make many more Trek shows, so I really don't want to see all of that lost because they're cheaping out on the tech side.
We are enjoying it as well, and will most likely pick up the second season on Blu-ray if and when CBS releases it. What is so aggravating is that we both know that the series gets better treatment in Europe where it streams on Netflix, definitely in 5.1 and possibly in 4K and Atmos.
 
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