10 All Access Review: A good start in need of some great content

Posted: 4 December 2018 8:37 pm News

Quick Verdict
Channel 10's new streaming app is a lot better than we've seen out of most commercial players in Australia, but at launch it's not exactly brimming with must-view content. The promise of (most) new CBS shows as they air in the US gives it plenty of promise for the future, however.

The good

  • Support for PC, Mac, Chromecast, Apple TV and Mobile
  • Selected CBS shows on US air dates
  • Up to three simultaneous streams

The bad

  • Most of the content is quite old
  • Incomplete for some series
  • Low on original content at launch

Channel 10's new 10 All Access subscription service has generally good performance, but it's got work to do to provide a compelling content story.

10 All Access: Set-up

  • Can be tricky to find apps
  • Easy subscription via browser, Apple or Android platforms
  • Single plan price
  • Support for up to three screens

For many years now, Australia's commercial broadcasters have lagged badly behind the streaming offerings of both SBS and ABC, with clunky, ad-ridden apps that offered a generally sub-par experience. Channel 10's app was no different, but when the network was bought out by US broadcasting giant CBS, it made the promise that we'd see a version of its subscription service, CBS All Access, here in Australia.

That day has come, with the rebranded 10 All Access available to Australians with a one-month free trial, after which it costs a flat $9.95 per month. There's no variance in plans at launch, with a single plan that supports up to three simultaneous streams at once across a variety of devices.

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While we've seen quite a few services launch here with very limited device compatibility, 10 All Access at least has cross-platform support for Android, iOS, Apple TV, Chromecast and browser-based playback on PC or Mac. Although in my own testing, actually finding the Android app in the Google Play store can be tricky, with a wide variety of devices failing to find the app on launch day. 10 All Access's FAQ does provide direct links to the Play Store version of the apps, at least, but discoverability at launch isn't great.

The actual signup process is as simple as they come, requiring an email address, password and payment method. You can sign up via Apple or Android payment platforms, or via a credit card using a web browser. Your sign-in details will work across any supported platform.

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10 All Access: Compatibility and features

  • Limited original content
  • Some CBS All Access content is missing
  • A lot of older content
  • No streaming quality choices

At launch, 10 All Access has a range of TV shows – no movies are available on the service – to stream to your heart's content, although you've got to be keen on just a few genres or on much older content. While the branding is channel 10, most of the content is taken up by what CBS, the network owners, call "CBS Classics".

There are a lot of CBS Classics on offer, and while that's fine if you wanted to see what Ian Ziering did before he was in all those Sharknado movies by watching Beverly Hills 90210, it can't help but feel a little limiting compared to the larger quantity of genuinely new content available on services such as Netflix or Stan.

There's more of an Amazon Prime Video vibe here, although to be fair to 10 All Access, it's actually got more content than we see on Amazon Prime Video here Down Under, even at launch.

In terms of Australian content, you can binge to your heart's content on The Bachelor, The Bachelor in Paradise or The Bachelorette, along with a selection of other Channel 10 shows. Here it's worth noting that not every episode is available to stream; as an example, The Bachelor only goes back to season four.

Or for a more stark contrast, Neighbours, where in theory 10 All Access could offer up some 7,985 episodes across 36 seasons to binge on, you just get episodes broadcast since the start of 2018, and that's it.

OK, maybe for Neighbours, watching 7,985 episodes would be overkill, or at the very least slow sofa suicide, but then streaming services are meant to be all about binge watching, no? If somebody wants to watch the classic Kylie Minogue episodes, why shouldn't they be able to?

One oddity in the streaming space that you do get with a 10 All Access subscription is the ability to stream CBSN, CBS's US-centric news streaming service. It's the only part of the platform that live streams, with Channel 10 itself notably absent. Also, it's US news, with a particularly US-centric viewpoint that some Australian viewers – if you're not already familiar with the style – may find a little jarring and jingoistic.

In terms of original shows, there's just four to choose from at launch, with The Good Fight, One Dollar, Strange Angel and Tell Me A Story on offer. Notably absent is CBS All Access's jewel in the crown for its US offering, Star Trek: Discovery because the non-US rights were snaffled up by Netflix, reportedly for any episodes and seasons that will be made.

However, 10 All Access does have a notable upside if you're a fan of CBS shows. Selected shows from the US broadcaster will enjoy same-day streaming rights on 10 All Access, even before they appear on Channel 10 itself. That could have some significant upsides, presuming of course there's a show you're particularly passionate about.

So what about the actual streaming quality? Well, here you've got limited choices because whether you're using the app or streaming from a desktop, you get no controls over the quality of the stream you're getting. While CBS All Access advertises that selected content is available in HD, there's no mention of stream quality at all for 10 All Access. I suspect that's not coincidental.

The quality hit is most noticeable on older content – watching the pilot episode of Family Ties (because hey, why not?), I hit some pretty serious digital quality issues with the stream. Newer content tended to look better, but rarely great, even on a decent quality broadband connection.

I also hit issues getting some streams to even start over a Chromecast connection, although as with all things Chromecast, it's rather difficult to say if that's 10 All Access's fault, the Chromecast's fault or something in-between. I didn't hit the same issues watching directly on Android or via the Chrome browser on a MacBook Pro, where playback was rapid and, of course, ad-free.

10 All Access: Should you subscribe?

  • Better than existing commercial streaming services
  • Needs a serious content kick to become a must-subscribe option

The value in any streaming service lies in whether it's got content you actually want to watch, and here it becomes a matter of personal taste. There's a lot of "classic" content on 10 All Access that's appeared across other streaming services in recent years, so a lot of it might not feel all that fresh to you or have that much appeal.

10 All Access does at least allow you to browse its entire content library by title (but not episode or season) without even signing in, so you can get a top-down view of what's on offer before you sign up.

Still, it's not the strongest offering for $9.95 a month in terms of overall content to grab. The prospect of fully legal, same-day US streaming could have a serious disruptive effect on how the commercial channels – including Channel 10 itself – operate in Australia, and that does give it more value, but it's a value that's probably only going to last as long as each series run does for you.

It's pretty easy to see 10 All Access as a streaming option that you might dip your toes into from time to time, but unless the library grows a lot – and gets a lot fresher – it's still a fair way from being a must-subscribe service for most viewers.

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10 All Access: Pricing and availability

10 All Access costs $9.95 per month in Australia, with a free 30 day trial available.

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