giddy-up

All Them Newfangled Ways to Watch Yellowstone Are a Mess

Think you’re tough enough to wrangle a cable log-in, cowboy? Photo: Danno Nell/Paramount Network

There’s no getting around the first part of this: This is a post about how to watch Yellowstone, even though Yellowstone is a show I can’t exactly recommend you or anyone else watch. Nevertheless it is a show I do watch, and so do roughly 12 million people, and because you’re reading this, it’s likely a show you watch too.

But how?

It seems as if this should be an astoundingly easy question to answer — all those millions of people have figured out how to watch a show that’s now in its fifth season. How hard could it possibly be? And yet the answer to this question is, and has always been, bananas. Let’s run down the options.

It’s a Paramount show, so I can use my Paramount+ log-in, right?

Oh ho, that’s what you think! That is also what I thought, but I was wrong. Still, there are other Taylor Sheridan shows on Paramount+, including Tulsa King and Mayor of Kingstown. The rest of the Yellowstone-extended-universe shows, including the prequel, 1883, and the future releases 1923 and 6666, will be found on Paramount+. Not everyone knows this, but eventually there will be a Yellowstone spinoff show for every year going back to 1492, and they will all be on Paramount+.

And yet, Yellowstone is not on Paramount+, so move right along to the next option.

I can watch it on cable, though?

Ooh, you’re on Yellowstone’s good side, aren’t you? After all, Yellowstone is a show about embracing tradition, about knowing that the old ways are the good ways (for certain narrowly defined versions of “old ways,” which include Manifest Destiny but not Indigenous land use). So it makes sense that the easiest way to watch Yellowstone is as a TV traditionalist. Sit down in front of your TV at 8 p.m. on a Sunday and hum “Appalachian Spring” while navigating your TV remote to the Paramount Network. You could also DVR it, if you must.

What if I have a cable log-in, but I don’t want to DVR it and I don’t want to watch Sunday at 8 p.m.?

You mean … you want to stream it? You know that’s against tradition, don’t you?

Don't have Paramount+?

I guess?

Fine, you’re a TV weakling, and Yellowstone no longer respects you, but if you must, you could use the cable log-in to watch Yellowstone “on demand,” which is a form of TV access that apparently still exists?

Alternatively, you could go to paramountnetwork.com or use the Paramount Network app, where the season-five premiere is streaming for free with ads. There is zero chance the whole season will be available to stream for free over there, but if for some reason all you want is that first premiere episode, knock yourself out!

Important note: It’s Paramount Network, not Paramount+. If you go to the Paramount Network website, it may trick you into thinking, Wait, aren’t these the same thing? It keeps telling me to sign up for Paramount+! It is lying to you. Yellowstone is not there. Evil is, though. Forget Yellowstone — go watch Evil!

But, wait, I want to watch Yellowstone! And I don’t have a cable log-in.

Haha, sucker. Yellowstone is not for you cord-cutters, you newfangled internet types, you digital cowboys. Yellowstone is about how the hard ways are better! Masculinity is about toughness and being resilient, and streaming services are for girls!

What I’m saying is if you’ve gone soft and refused to pony up for the old-fashioned form of TV access that was good enough for your parents, you have very few options. You could do one of the cable options for people with commitment problems, like SlingTV, Philo, or YouTube Live. (This might be a good deal, but it may also be worth considering why you’re not just going in for cable.)

Don't have Peacock Premium?

You could watch seasons one through four streaming on Peacock, but you’re going to get stuck at the very big season-ending cliffhanger and think, Did this man get elected to public office? And then you’ll be very mad Peacock doesn’t currently have season five. At that point, you could wait for season five to show up on Peacock (which it likely will but not until after it finishes its current weekly run on cable). Or your simplest option is probably to pay for the season by itself. The price is $3 per episode on Prime or $40 for all of season five (which will be split into two parts) with each new episode available the day after broadcast. In my day, you could buy an entire season of TV for just $20, but I guess times sure are a-changin’.

Okay, that helps. Thanks! I’ll start watching right this min—

Once you finally sort all of that out, you arrive at a deeper question. You can watch Yellowstone now — but why? Do you watch it because you think it’s like Succession but with more horses and less humor? Do you watch it for the admittedly beautiful landscapes or because you’re simply stunned by the weird craggy thing Kevin Costner does with his voice? Maybe it’s the way Rip shoots a bear off a cliff. Maybe it’s because you’re hoping that if season five of this show actually includes people holding governmental office, you’ll finally understand this franchise’s politics! Is there something about its depiction of fathering that lets you believe, deep in your heart, that your own father did love you even though he was patently abusive?

Or perhaps you enjoy the fact that, as my Vox colleague Emily VanDerWerff puts it, Yellowstone is a show about “how when you own a ranch, you have to kill many people.” Probably it’s just that when push comes to shove, you find the show appealing. I guess that’s why I’m still watching? It’s that plus I enjoy shows where people spend a lot of time arguing in the vicinity of cows.

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All Them Newfangled Ways to Watch Yellowstone Are a Mess