36 original series; changes to subscription structure from CBS All Access
[Editor’s Note: This story was updated on March 5. – T. H]
ViacomCBS officially jumped into the streaming wars this week with their three-hour upfront-like Paramount + presentation Wednesday afternoon, unveiling a slog of programming with a whopping 36 original series and tons of specials all set to launch March 4. The new service builds on CBS’ previous All Access streaming service, launched in 2014.
“This isn’t your father’s ViacomCBS or my father’s” said ViacomCBS CEO Shari Redstone, referring to the days when Viacom was a mere syndicator spun off from CBS and infamously known for the zooming V (aka “The V of Doom”) at the end of their programming and later when Sumner Redstone was CEO, in an era where game-changing cable channels MTV and Nickelodeon flourished. This is of course, part of their “reunification” effort, which saw CBS and Viacom come together again after fifteen years apart.
Paramount + was announced last year, to compete with Disney, NBCUniversal, and Netflix in the streaming space, which is growing by leaps and bounds and redefining the way we consume entertainment. Marketing so far has been lackluster with those terrible Super Bowl commercials. But the meat of the product has been announced so let’s look at what we have here in a Q-and-A-format.
Q: Fraiser is coming back?
If you like reboots, Paramount + has your number. The highest profile revival is the former NBC comedy Frasier, with Kesley Grammer back in the title role. The series ran for eleven seasons (1993-2004) and won tons of Emmys. Another return is another long-running series, the former CBS procedural Criminal Minds, which only left the airwaves…last year. This time, the series returns with ten episodes but with only one story arc, a marked departure from its regular format.
Other reboots include Rugrats, Yo! MTV Raps, Road Rules, The Real World, and iCarly. Of note, The Game is being revived again, becoming the first show (outside of Family Guy) to be revived twice.
Q: Anything else?
Also on the original programming beat (and I use that term loosely), several movies are being adapted into series, including those based on Grease, Love Story, The Godfather, and Flashdance.
If you’re looking for original original programming, there are a few – a drama adapted from a video game (Halo) and a Yellowstone spin-off. And of course, there’s yet another Star Trek show (Strange New Worlds).
Q: What’s on tap for kids?
Aside from a new Spongebob spin-off series and a new feature-length movie, the Nick-branded material includes the aforementioned iCarly and Dora The Explorer series, and a live-action The Fairly OddParents show.
Q: What about reality TV and comedies?
There’s a lot of existing programming here (RuPaul, Big Brother Live Feeds, Ink Masters), but there’s a reboot of The Challenge and Road Rules, not to mention new series Dating Naked and Queen Of The Universe, plus you have a Real World: New York reunion.
Aside from Frasier, new comedies include Guilty Party, animated Harper House, Comedy Central’s Reno 911 and a weekly Trevor Noah show are on tap, with two feature-length movies based on Beavis and Butt-Head and Workaholics, respectively. Missing from the lineup is Comedy Central’s biggest show – South Park, whose streaming rights were sold to AT&T’s HBO Max.
Adding to the comedy, Paramount claimed MTV created the reality TV genre in the press release, which in itself is is hilarious.
Q: I miss music videos on MTV. Will they have them here?
While there won’t be any music video programming, MTV is contributing Behind The Music (another reboot) and Unplugged, in addition to the aforementioned Yo! MTV Raps to the service.
Q: What other new shows are coming to Paramount +?
Several shows are making the move to Paramount + exclusively: Showtime’s Inside the NFL and TVLand’s Younger.
Q: Anything else?
In the news and documentaries department, look for another 60 Minutes show and new documentaries 76 Days and The Real Criminal Minds. And Paramount + has tons of movies, include the new Mission: Impossible 7 (debuting after a theatrical window of 30-45 days) not to mention classic films from the Paramount library and also from Epix and MGM (post-1986 library.)
Q: Will I be able to see current CBS All Access shows on Paramount + ?
Everything now in CBS All Access will rollover to Paramount + including the existing scripted programming, classic TV shows, live sports, and news. However, one show won’t make the transition: CBS All Access canceled the latest version of the Twilight Zone after two seasons, but existing episodes will shift to Paramount +.
Q: Great! Will I’ll be able to see Angie or Wings or The Untouchables?
Classic TV programming I hear is going to be limited, so if you want the hits, it’s best you stick to MeTV and Antenna TV.
Q: All right, what about pricing?
Pricing is going to change. It will be $4.99/mo. for the basic Paramount stuff with ads (you also get CBSN and their local counterparts, CBS network shows, CBS Sports HQ, ET Live, CBS News material on demand, and CBS’ NFL games), but $9.99/mo. if you want live sports and the ability to stream your local CBS affiliate, wherever available (Chicago viewers should have no problems as WBBM-TV and Paramount + share the same corporate cousin in ViacomCBS.)
Q: Is Paramount + going to be available everywhere? (updated)
Paramount + will be able on iOs (Apple) and Android devices, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Smart TV makers Vizio, Samsung, and LG, and game consoles XBox One and Series X and the PS4 (but not the PS5.) The CBS AA app rolls automatically into the new Paramount one, account info included.
Q: Where I can find more information?
It’s right here on the T Dog Media Slideshare page.
Q: Do we really need another streaming service?
No, but the entertainment industry (TV and film) is pivoting to streaming, and every studio and media company needs to be part of the action. But keep in mind there are some that serve a distinct niche – i.e. the successful launch of Discovery +, featuring content from Discovery’s cable networks plus original programming. But who’s going to have time to watch all of this content? Busy people, older audiences, and light TV watchers aren’t likely to spring for all of these services, and if they do, it’ll likely be one or two.
Q: How do I pay for all of these streaming services?
Consult your financial advisor.