One day the streaming wars will slow down, but alas that day is not here yet. On Feb. 24, ViacomCBS confirmed all the details of its upcoming all-encompassing streaming service: Paramount+.
This new streaming service will replace ViacomCBS’s existing option, CBS All Access, and is designed to keep the major media conglomerate competitive with its peers like WarnerMedia’s HBO Max, NBCUniversal’s Peacock, and Disney’s Disney+
“In today’s entertainment landscape, ViacomCBS stands aprt as the only media company to fully embrace every segment of the streaming universe across free, premium and pay,” said Bob Bakish, President and Chief Executive Officer, ViacomCBS. “The launch of Paramount+ supercharges our strategy with a broad pay service that will be home to everything consumers love, all in one place: live sports, breaking news and a mountain of entertainment, at scale.”
Here is everything you need to know about Paramount+.
Paramount+ Launch Date
Paramount+ is set to launch on March 4 in the U.S., Canada, and 18 Latin American countries. Nordic countries will receive Paramount+ on March 25 as will Australia (thought the service will be called “10 All Access”). There is no announced U.K. launch date yet but ViacomCBS notes that additional markets are planned.
Paramount+: How is It Different From CBS All Access?
To keep things simple off the top: Paramount+ is CBS All Access, just rebranded and expanded. If you currently have a CBS All Access subscription, it should automatically convert into a Paramount+ subscription during the March 4 release date. That sounds simple enough, but as HBO users who went through the HBO Max transition know, there could be some complications. Be sure to check out Paramount+’s website should any issues arise on launch day.
But why is CBS All Access rebranding to Paramount+? Well the name of the game in the streaming world at the moment is consolidation. Major media companies own many different channels of distribution and are seeking to consolidate them all onto one platform. CBS All Access was always more of an “extra” CBS. But the recently combined conglomerate ViacomCBS owns and operates many other sources of entertainment, including: CBS, Paramount Pictures, BET, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, and more. Paramount+ will incorporate ViacomCBS content from all of these channels and more, rather than just CBS
Why exactly did ViacomCBS settle on “Paramount” as the brand to incorporate its many subsidiaries? That’s anyone’s guess. WarnerMedia ultimately decided that “HBO” was the most recognizable brand for its streaming service. ViacomCBS, whose demographic usually skews older, perhaps thought its viewers would be most emotionally attached to the iconic Paramount mountain logo.
Many other ViacomCBS properties had their own streaming service like MTV Hits and Comedy Central Now. Those will be sunsetted and existing content will be incorporated into Paramount+. The SHOWTIME streaming service, however, will continue and be offered as a separate add-on to Paramount+ in the U.S. It will come included internationally.
Paramount+ will feature two different price points but only one will be available at launch. The first pricing tier is Premium at $9.99 and will include complete access to all Paramount+ content, except for the Showtime add-on. The premium tier will also feature live sports, news programs, and access to a live feed of CBS.
The other pricing tier will be available in June and is $4.99. This will include much of the same content but will also feature advertisements. In case you’re wondering what kind of ads you might experience in the second pricing tier, ViacomCBS has announced that its lead sponsors will be General Motors, Expedia, and Procter & Gamble.
Paramount+’s plans for television series are extensive. Like other similar streaming services, Paramount+ will play host to existing TV series on ViacomCBS channels, while also producing its own original content.
During the ViacomCBS Streaming event presentation, the company revealed that it plans to launch at least 50 new original series over the next two years, with 36 arriving in 2021. Here is a list of all the announced original series, with descriptions from ViacomCBS:
- Criminal Minds – top rated series in broadcast and streaming returns with a new scripted series that brings the team back together to investigate a single, fascinating case over 10 episodes.
- Flashdance – a young woman struggles to make her mark in the ballet world while navigating romance, money, art, friendship, and how to love herself. Award-winning Mad Men writer Tracy McMillan is writing and executive producing the drama series which will pick up from where the story left off, but in present-day. True Blood’s Angela Robinson will direct and executive produce the series with Lynda Obst.
- Halo – based on the iconic Xbox® franchise, Halo’s epic universe and cast of characters come to life in this new original drama series. In the new television adaptation, Halo will take place in the universe that first came to be in 2001, dramatizing an epic 26th-century conflict between humanity and an alien threat known as the Covenant. Halo will weave deeply drawn personal stories with action, adventure and a richly imagined vision of the future.
- Land Man – set in the proverbial boomtowns of West Texas, Land Man is a modern-day tale of fortune seeking in the world of oil rigs. The series is an upstairs/downstairs story of roughnecks and wildcat billionaires fueling a boom so big, it’s reshaping our climate, our economy and our geopolitics.
- Love Story – Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, the executive producers of Gossip Girl, The O.C., and Looking for Alaska, are bringing to Paramount+ a series based on the award-winning perennial film, Love Story.
- Mayor of Kingstown – follows the McLusky family, power brokers in Kingstown, Michigan, where the business of incarceration is the only thriving industry. Tackling themes of systemic racism, corruption and inequality, the series provides a stark look at their attempt to bring order and justice to a town that has neither.
- Star Trek: Strange New Worlds – the next installment of the popular Star Trek franchise is based on the years Captain Christopher Pike manned the helm of the U.S.S. Enterprise. The series will follow Captain Pike, Science Officer Spock and Number One in the decade before Captain Kirk boarded the U.S.S. Enterprise.
- The Italian Job – when the grandchildren of the legendary Charlie Croker inherit his old safety deposit box, the quest for the infamous Italian bullion is reignited. The series, from Paramount Television Studios, is executive produced and written by Matt Wheeler (Hawaii Five-0), and produced by Donald De Line.
- The Man Who Fell To Earth – starring Oscar-nominee and BAFTA-winner Chiwetel Ejiofor, is based on the Walter Tevis novel of the same name and the iconic film starring David Bowie. The series will follow a new alien character who arrives on Earth at a turning point in human evolution, and must confront his own past to determine our future.
- The Offer – a scripted limited event series from Paramount Television Studios, based on Oscar-winning producer Al Ruddy’s extraordinary, never-revealed experiences of making The Godfather. The 10-episode event series is written and executive produced by Michael Tolkin (Escape at Dannemora, The Player). Ruddy will also serve as executive producer, alongside showrunner Nikki Toscano (Hunters), and Emmy® Award-winning producer Leslie Greif (Hatfields & McCoys).
- The Parallax View – a scripted series from Paramount Television Studios, based on the iconic film. The series will be executive produced by Paula Wagner.
- Y:1883 – follows the Dutton family as they embark on a journey west through the Great Plains toward the last bastion of untamed America. It is a stark retelling of Western expansion, and an intense study of one.
- Yellowstone Spinoff, 6666 (Working Title) – founded when Comanches still ruled West Texas, no ranch in America is more steeped in the history of the West than the 6666. Still operating as it did two centuries before, and encompassing an entire county, the 6666 is where the rule of law and the laws of nature merge in a place where the most dangerous thing one does is the next thing… The 6666 is synonymous with the merciless endeavor to raise the finest horses and livestock in the world, and ultimately where world class cowboys are born and made.
- Frasier – Frasier’s back – and he’s more exactly the same than ever. Kelsey Grammer reprises his role as the Dr. Frasier Crane.
- Grease: The Rise of the Pink Ladies – with both classic and new songs, and a diverse cast, the series is a prequel to the unforgettable musical film, Grease, and tells the story of how Frenchy’s older sister, Jane, founded the Pink Ladies. The series, from Paramount Television Studios, is executive produced by Annabel Oakes (Atypical, Transparent), Marty Bowen (Twilight) and Erik Feig (La La Land).
- Guilty Party – a dark comedy starring Kate Beckinsale as a discredited journalist who finds herself in over her head when she latches onto the story of a young mother sentenced to life in jail for murdering her husband – a crime she claims she didn’t commit.
- Inside Amy Schumer – the Peabody, Emmy® and Writers Guild Award-winning franchise returns with five specials starring Amy Schumer, one of the entertainment industry’s leading forces as a stand-up comedian, actress, writer, producer and director.
- Reno 911! The Hunt For QAnon – a super-sized event based off the long-running hit, critically-acclaimed Comedy Central series. Most recently, Reno 911! received two 2020 Emmy® Award nominations for Outstanding Short Form Comedy or Drama Series and for Outstanding Actress in A Short Form Comedy or Drama Series (Kerri Kenney-Silver). In 2021, the show is nominated for a Critics Choice Award.
- The Game – the popular BET sitcom returns with a mix of original cast and new players, and will offer a modern-day examination of Black culture through the prism of pro football.
- The Harper House – an animated family comedy that follows an overconfident female head of a household as she struggles to regain a higher status for herself and for her family of oddballs after losing her job and moving from the rich side to the poor side of an Arkansas small town.
- The Weekly Show with Trevor Noah (Working Title) – Trevor Noah will star in and produce an initial six episode series looking at stories across the societal landscape and talk with the people behind the headlines: people you know; people you don’t know; and people you didn’t even know you didn’t know.
- Younger – Darren Star’s critically acclaimed smash-hit, Younger, follows Liza Miller (Sutton Foster), a talented editor navigating the highly competitive world of publishing — while juggling the complications of mixing business with pleasure and facing the lie she created about her age to land her dream job.
- Untitled Beavis & Butt-head Movie – Emmy® Award-winning Mike Judge reimagines MTV’s seminal, Gen X-defining Beavis and Butt-Head who return for another movie adventure to kick-off the new series.
- Workaholics Movie – made-for-streaming movie based off the popular long-running Comedy Central series starring Blake Anderson, Adam DeVine, Anders Holm and Kyle Newacheck.
Kids and Family
- Avatar – Nickelodeon’s new animation studio division dedicated entirely to creating content based on the wildly popular world of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra. Led by the series’ original creators Mike DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, in partnership with the Nickelodeon Animation Studio, Avatar Studios will produce for Paramount+ a wide-range of Avatar-inspired content, ranging from spinoffs and theatricals to short form.
- Dora the Explorer – a new live-action series based on the iconic character, designed for an older audience of kids 6-11 and their families.
- iCarly – a new chapter for the most successful kids’ sitcom of all time, where original cast members Miranda Cosgrove, Nathan Kress and Jerry Trainor join new friends for a look at these characters’ present-day lives, adventures and comedic mishaps.
- Kamp Koral: SpongeBob’s Under Years – the first-ever spinoff of SpongeBob SquarePants, Kamp Koral is a CG animated original series that takes viewers back to when the iconic characters of Bikini Bottom met for the very first time, in a summer camp like no other.
- Rugrats – an all-new series featuring Nick’s iconic babies, back together with the original voice cast in new CG animation.
- Star Trek: Prodigy – the first-ever Star Trek for the kids and family audience, combining the Nickelodeon sensibility with the action and adventure hallmarks of the Star Trek franchise.
- The Fairly OddParents – a live-action take on one of Nick’s longest running and most successful animated hits.
- Big Brother Live Feeds – offers an in-depth, exclusive pass to the show where fans have the opportunity to watch all the action inside the Big Brother house.
- Dating Naked – the most vulnerable social experiment returns to bring dating back to its most honest, unguarded and naked form. Can these modern daters strip back their preconceived notions, carefully curated images AND their clothes to reveal their true selves and find love?
- Ink Master – the tattoo competition reality series where some of the nation’s top tattoo artists battle it out in various tattoo challenges that not only test the artists’ technical skills, but also their on-the-spot creativity for the title of Ink Master.
- Love Island on Paramount+ – an extension of the popular CBS reality series that takes subscribers beyond the boundaries of what’s shown in the broadcast with exclusive content and live visits to the Villa.
- Queen of the Universe – in a singing competition like no other, drag queens from all around the world compete to see who is Queen of the Universe. High heels, high octaves, high competition – this drag queen singing competition will blow your wig off. From Emmy® Award-winning production company, World of Wonder.
- Road Rules – back with a new roster of Road Warriors. These strangers will be abandoned in a far-flung location and stripped of their modern-day luxuries by boarding a restricted life in an RV, traveling from location to location. They will be guided by a set of clues, odd jobs and missions for money. If they last to the end of the trip, they walk away with the life changing prize.
- RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars – the best of the best from the Emmy® Award-winning RuPaul’s Drag Race return to compete for $100,000 and a coveted spot in the Drag Race Hall of Fame. In each episode, legendary queens will battle it out until only one drag queen is crowned the winner.
- The Challenge: All Stars – twenty-two of the most iconic, boldest, and fiercest Challenge All Stars from the original Real World and Road Rules have been selected to return for a second chance at the ultimate competition. All have history, but when relationships are the key to survival, will these legends be able to form new bonds or will their past lead to their demise? With $500,0000 and their legacies on the line, which of these All Stars will prove they are still the best of the best?
- The Real World: Homecoming: New York – almost 30 years later, the original “seven strangers” that paved the way for modern reality TV are moving back into the New York loft where it all began. Viewers will be reunited with the cast from the very first season of The Real World in a brand new multi-episode docuseries to find out, once again, what happens when they stop being polite… and start getting real. Series begins streaming on Thursday, March 4th.
- Behind the Music – Behind the Music is back! The groundbreaking and prolific music documentary series returns with several new episodes and the best of the vault remastered and updated for today’s audiences with artist interviews, a creative refresh and reimagined visual style.
- From Cradle to Stage – this new six-part, unscripted television series from Director Dave Grohl was inspired by his mother, Virginia Hanlon Grohl, and based on her critically-acclaimed book, From Cradle to Stage: Stories from the Mothers Who Rocked and Raised Rock Stars. The series is a dynamic personal exploration of the special relationship between successful musicians and their moms. Each episode features a famous performer and their mom as well as Dave and Virginia.
- Unplugged – MTV’s most iconic musical performance franchise will come to Paramount+ several times a year as special intimate MTV Unplugged events featuring some of the world’s biggest artists.
- Yo! MTV Raps – MTV is bringing back its most storied hip-hop series and music franchise Yo! MTV Raps for Paramount+. The return of Yo! MTV Raps will include hosted segments, live performances, cyphers and lifestyle content, and will serve as a comprehensive deep dive into the current state of hip-hop. After its debut 33 years ago on August 6, 1988, Yo! MTV Raps became the premiere destination for all things hip-hop. The advent of the series was crucial to the rise of rap music worldwide, creating a global passion for the genre and greater hip-hop culture, which has since become the most dominant force in mainstream music and pop culture worldwide.
CBS All Access Originals (Which Will Continue as Paramount+ Originals)
- No Activity – a half-hour police comedy, starring Patrick Brammall and Tim Meadows, which was previously a live-action series, will be completely animated for season four.
- Star Trek: Discovery – the series, starring Sonequa Martin-Green, follows the voyages of Starfleet on their missions to discover new worlds and new life forms, and one Starfleet officer who must learn that to truly understand all things alien, you must first understand yourself.
- Star Trek: Lower Decks – a half-hour animated comedy series, focuses on the support crew on one of Starfleet’s least important ships, the U.S.S. Cerritos, in 2380. Ensigns Mariner, Boimler, Rutherford and Tendi have to keep up with their duties and their social lives, often while the ship is being rocked by a multitude of sci-fi anomalies.
- Star Trek: Picard – features Patrick Stewart reprising his iconic role as Jean-Luc Picard, which he played for seven seasons on Star Trek: The Next Generation. The series follows this iconic character into the next chapter of his life.
- Stephen Colbert Presents Tooning Out the News – a daily news satire series featuring a cast of animated characters, led by anchor James Smartwood, lampooning real-world news stories and interviewing live-action guests.
- The Good Fight – the critically acclaimed drama starring Christine Baranski as Diane Lockhart follows her next chapter at one of Chicago’s preeminent African-American law firms. The wide-ranging topicality of the series captures the current sociopolitical era as the firm confronts real life issues of today.
- Why Women Kill – a dark comedy created by Marc Cherry, is an anthology series that examines how the roles of women have changed over the decades, but how their reaction to betrayal… has not.
- 76 Days – a look at life in the earliest days of the COVID-19 crisis in Wuhan, China, the Oscar Shortlisted 76 Days focuses on frontline hospital workers and their patients, bearing witness to the human resilience that persists in times of profound tragedy.
- Black Gold – from Oscar-nominated director Darren Aronofsky’s Protozoa and Emmy® Award-winning Time Studios, this is a true-life conspiracy thriller about a decades-long campaign to trade our planet for profit.
- For Heaven’s Sake – blends comedy and crime documentary formats for a unique take on uncovering the truth. The series follows the search for Harold Heaven, who mysteriously disappeared from his remote cabin in Ontario, Canada, in the winter of 1934.
- The Real Criminal Minds – a true crime docu series, featuring a former real FBI profiler. The series will examine real cases, and real criminal behavior, illustrated by clips fans will remember from the fictional series.
- Watergate – from MTV Entertainment Studios, this series will illuminate a moment in our history that parallels so much of what’s happening now.
- Sir Alex Ferguson: Never Give In – tells the story of the legendary manager of Manchester United, and one of the most memorable figures in European football.
- Stories from the Beautiful Game – an original soccer documentary series produced by Pete Radovich, the award-winning coordinating producer of CBS Sports’ UEFA coverage. Paramount+ will release several soccer documentaries every year, starting later in 2021.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the future of movie theaters is in question…particularly with major entertainment entities launching their own in-house streaming options. ViacomCBS, however, will not be releasing its entire theatrical slate exclusively to streaming like WarnerMedia has with HBO Max.
Paramount Pictures films will still continue to receive theatrical releases, and then be made available on Paramount+ 30-45 days after the initial release window. Upcoming major Paramount films that will eventually arrive to Paramount+ include: A Quiet Place Part II, PAW PATROL: The Movie, and Mission: Impossible 7. Other recently released Paramount films will be available on Paramount+ at launch such as Sonic the Hedgehog, Rocketman, Bumblebee, and more.
Access to live sports was always a major draw for CBS All Access and Paramount+ will continue that tradition and expand upon it. ViacomCBS reports that Paramount+ will feature at least 1,000 live sporting events per year. These include:
- THE NFL ON CBS
- The Masters
- NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship
- PGA TOUR
- SEC ON CBS
- The PGA Championship
- National Women’s Soccer League
- UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and UEFA Europa Conference League
- Liga Profesional de Fútbol
- Campeonato Brasileiro Série A
Paramount+ will be accessible at ParamountPlus.com and will also receive an app for both iOS and Android devices. Of course, a big issue that many new streaming services have run into is a lack of availability at launch on major smart TVs and OTT providers like Amazon Fire, and Roku. While WarnerMedia eventually cut a deal with Roku to host HBO sometime after its release, it was still a traumatic few months for HBO Roku-users.
And wouldn’t you know it – references to Samsung, Amazon Fire, Roku, and major gaming consoles like Xbox and PlayStation are noticeably absent from ViacomCBS’s Paramount+ announcement. The company only notes that Paramount+ will be available “across a wide number of platforms, including smart TVs, connected-TV devices, online, mobile, gaming consoles, and leading OTT providers.”
The good news, however, is that CBS All Access is currently available on Roku, Amazon Fire, and all other major OTT providers. Perhaps it will be a smooth transition for smart TV owners and Roku-users then, but who knows when it comes to streaming!