Today, CBSViacom has revealed Paramount Plus, its previously-touted streaming service that will succeed the existing CBS All Access streamer and expand the amount of movies and TV shows on offer. A slew of original projects have been announced for the service, too.
The service will release in the US in early 2021, with international launches planned in Australia, Latin America and the Nordics next year too. Indeed, the service is described as 'global', which suggests UK customers will see some version of it at some point. Paramount Plus already exists in some international territories.
Paramount Plus will offer existing content from CBS All Access like its Star Trek series and The Twilight Zone remake, but also amalgamate content from channels owned by its parent company like Nickelodeon, Comedy Central BET, MTV and The Paramount Channel. Movies from Paramount Pictures itself will be part of the deal, too.
News and live sports will be part of the overall offering on Paramount Plus, which is characterized as a 'mountain of entertainment' (because, you know, the logo is a mountain). It's a similar playbook to the recent Peacock launch.
The original series you'll find on Paramount Plus sound varied, and exciting in a couple of cases. Paramount is drawing upon its existing properties to drum up interest: 10-episode miniseries The Offer will be about the making of The Godfather, based on how producer Al Ruddy experienced the making of Francis Ford Coppola's classic.
MTV's Behind The Music will return in a form called The Top 40, and will focus on the 40 biggest musical acts of all time. A true crime series called The Real Criminal Minds is also in the works, along with a revival of long-running BET comedy The Game.
Finally – and the most exciting project, if you ask us – writer/director Taylor Sheridan (Wind River, Yellowstone, Sicario) is creating a spy drama called Lioness. It's about a marine who's recruited by the CIA to help bring down a terrorist organization by becoming pals with a major target's daughter.
A new Spongebob Squarepants series called Kamp Koral will also be part of the mix, along with the 2021 premiere of the Spongebob Squarepants movie. All of this is in addition to CBS All Access' own projects, like the upcoming Star Trek: Strange New Worlds and The Stand miniseries.
The total sum of content will come to more than 30,000 episodes and movies. How it'll be priced for new and existing customers hasn't been revealed yet, though CBS All Access currently costs $5.99 per month in the US with ads, and $9.99 without. (A similar pricing globally would convert to around $4.70 / AU$8.20 per month with ads, and £7.60 / AU$13.70 without, if indeed pricing tiers follow the same model as before.)
Our quick take
Since CBS All Access has been around for a little while, Paramount Plus isn't starting from scratch like the recent Peacock launch was. In fact, its situation is comparable to HBO Max, which launched off the back of an existing streaming offering, bolstered with new content to expand its audience.
The name Paramount Plus might have more name recognition outside the US – in the UK, for example, CBS isn't a network like it is in the US. That said, the word 'Paramount' doesn't conjure the same clear brand identity to us that 'Disney Plus' does.
We also can't help but wonder if ViacomCBS could have saved some of its better content for this launch. The announcement mentions that content from Comedy Central will be part of the offering – but it was only less than a year ago that a deal was made to license out South Park exclusively to HBO Max.
23 seasons of South Park would've made a big splash for this launch, surely? Likewise, rights to Paramount Network's enormously popular show Yellowstone currently belongs to the Peacock streaming service.
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