The rebrand, which takes effect in early 2021, had been reported in recent weeks and executives have been talking about the revamp throughout this year. The official announcement of the shift didn’t offer many surprises apart from some notable original programming news on a series about the making of The Godfather and a spy show from Yellowstone co-creator Taylor Sheridan.
Showtime, the sister streaming service to CBS All Access, will continue to operate separately from Paramount+. Some form of bundling is likely down the line, though no plans have been set on that front. Most CBS All Access subscribers pay $6 a month for an ad-supported version, with others forking over $10 a month for an ad-free experience.
Together, the two services had 16.2 million subscribers as of the end of June. ViacomCBS has never broken out individual numbers for each but executives have said in recent years that they are similar in size. ViacomCBS also has a thriving free streaming service in Pluto TV, which has more than 26.5 million subscribers in the U.S. and several global territories.
Both CBS All Access and Showtime launched in 2015, a bit ahead of the curve in terms of stand-alone streaming by established media companies. The field has since gotten significantly more crowded, with Apple, Disney, NBCUniversal and WarnerMedia all launching subscription services over the past year. For traditional players like ViacomCBS, there is a sense of urgency to the streaming effort given the secular decline of the pay-TV bundle and linear viewership.
After its debut five years ago, CBS All Access has added rights to local station programming and live streams of NFL games and other sports, giving it a dimension that other SVOD players lack. It has invested in a range of original shows like The Good Fight and Picard. Mining the broader company’s IP is the game plan, with new originals stemming from The Godfather and SpongeBob SquarePants and a marquee series coming from Yellowstone creator Taylor Sheridan.
Julie McNamara, who heads programming for CBS All Access, and ViacomCBS digital chief Marc DeBevoise will discuss the content strategy of Paramount+ later today at NATPE Streaming Plus.
The tension between building an original streaming arena for content ViacomCBS owns versus licensing it out has been notable in recent months. HBO Max paid top-of-market rates for rights to South Park and NBCUniversal’s Peacock licensed a large selection of Paramount film and TV titles. One day ago, HBO Max said it had taken rights to a swath of Comedy Central classics like Inside Amy Schumer and Reno 911. ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish
Paramount+ will feature content from the full ViacomCBS portfolio, spanning broadcast television, news, sports and entertainment brands. ViacomCBS will also bring it to international markets with an initial debut in Australia, Latin America and the Nordics in 2021.
“Paramount is an iconic and storied brand beloved by consumers all over the world, and it is synonymous with quality, integrity and world-class storytelling,” Bakish said. “With Paramount+, we’re excited to establish one global streaming brand in the broad-pay segment that will draw on the sheer breadth and depth of the ViacomCBS portfolio to offer an extraordinary collection of content for everyone to enjoy.”
The company’s Australian streamer, 10 All Access, which is tied to its linear channel Network Ten, will also be rebranded as Paramount+ and will air exclusive rights to Showtime and CBS All Access original series as well as Paramount+ originals and shows from CBS Television Studios, Paramount Television Studios, BET, Nickelodeon and MTV.
ViacomCBS will also rebrand its existing CBS All Access product in Canada in 2021.
Internationally, Paramount+ will be the exclusive home of Showtimes premieres like First Ladies (in which Viola Davis plays Michelle Obama), Halo and American Rust, as well as CBS All Access originals including Guilty Party and The Harper House.
The updated plan comes after David Lynn, President and CEO, VCNI, pulled back the curtain on its international strategy last month.
“With the global launch of Paramount+ we are poised to become as powerful a player in streaming as we are in TV,” he said. “VCNI is focused on building a meaningful, global brand presence in our key markets, generating material advertising, subscription and licensing revenue from streaming. By leveraging the iconic Paramount brand, leading edge infrastructure from ViacomCBS along with an incredible, super-sized pipeline of must-see content, Paramount+ will deliver an exceptional consumer entertainment experience and significantly disrupt the streaming industry.”
It is not clear whether ViacomCBS will launch the service in the UK, where it owns linear station Channel 5 and sister streamer My5, and much of its Showtime pipeline is tied up with an output deal with pay-TV operator Sky. “Clearly we will be looking at other markets and we do have plans for phase two markets, but I wouldn’t comment on any particular one at this stage,” Lynn told Deadline last month.
Jill Goldsmith contributed to this report.
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