Paramount+ streaming service ready for US launch
James R | On 20, Jan 2021
Paramount is launching its new streaming service, Paramount+, this March.
The platform will effectively be a rebranding of CBS All Access, which has so far given the world Star Trek: Discovery, Lower Decks and Picard, as well as a revival of The Twilight Zone and The Good Wife spin-off The Good Fight. After Viacom and CBS’ merger in 2019, the company is now bringing its wider content library together into one streaming destination. That includes titles from CBS, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon and Paramount Pictures.
There will be new originals too, including The Offer, about the making of The Godfather, Lioness, a CIA drama, The Real Criminal Minds and a revival of The Game.
All of this comes as the streaming market becomes increasingly competitive, with new rivalry from the likes of Disney+ and Apple TV+. But in the USA, things are even more fragmented, with HBO launching HBO Max last year, bringing together Warner’s content library, and NBC doing the same with its library on new platform Peacock. CBS was, of course, already in the marketplace shopping for eyeballs, but reportedly has approximately 8 million subscribers – a far cry from the 86.8 million worldwide subscribers Disney+ has racked up in roughly its first year.
International expansion will be where Paramount+ is looking to make up that difference. In the US and Latin America, Paramount+ will go live on 4th March, followed by the Nordics on 25th March and Australia in mid-2021. In Canada, CBS All Access will be rebranded to Paramount+, but the expanded library won’t be available until later this year.
What about the UK? That’s where it gets complicated. CBS, Viacom and Paramount Pictures have all licensed titled out to other streaming platforms and broadcasters over the years – Star Trek’s shows are based at a combination of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, while The Good Fight streams on Amazon Prime Video (after airing on More4) and The Twilight Zone revival has been picked up by SyFy in the UK. Paramount Pictures has sold off a number of films to streaming services in the past year due to cinema closures, including Coming 2 America, Without Remorse and The Tomorrow War (all Amazon Prime Video) and The Trial of the Chicago and Lovebirds (both Netflix). In 2018, Paramount also signed a multi-film deal with Netflix.
With such a wide variety of complex relationships and agreements to navigate, Paramount’s revamp of CBS All Access is tellingly working as more of a rebrand than a new launch, focusing on the areas that CBS All Access (or another streaming service also called Paramount+) already exists.
ViacomCBS confirmed to Variety previously that it will “continue to license product selectively to third parties in international markets” and “continue working with our colleagues in our distribution team to work out the right approach to allocate rights and windowing in those markets”.
Whether a streaming platform can achieve major growth while still licensing out its content to other services and broadcasters, only time will tell. But like NBC’s Peacock and HBO Max, don’t expect Paramount+ in the UK any time soon.