If you’ve watched the 2021 Super Bowl, you’ve almost certainly seen some nonsensical commercials showing yet another high-profile streaming service: Paramount +. But especially many of the characters and shows were featured in the spots Star Trek, already has a home on CBS All Access. What is going on?
What you see is not the dropping of one service and the launch of another, but rather the gradual transition to a new bit of branding. Paramount + has been in the works since the mega-media merger of CBS and Viacom in 201
This is actually the third time the two companies have reformed after splitting up: the original Columbia Broadcasting System renamed itself Viacom in 1970, after which CBS television spun off into its own company. After buying Paramount and MTV, among others, Viacom reacquired the CBS TV empire in 1999. In 2006 the companies were split up again, both operating under the parent company National Amusements. After much intrigue in the boardroom, the companies re-merged in 2019. The history of corporate mergers and acquisitions gets weird at times.
A resurgent ViacomCBS has teamed up to combat growing consolidation in the streaming market following the Disney / Fox merger and tremendous pressure from Warner Media with HBO Max. Paramount +, the new name for CBS All Access and a host of new streaming content, is the result.
What CBS All Access content is available on Paramount +?
Since ViacomCBS didn’t lose any of its content library during the merger, Paramount + will essentially be a rename and relaunch of CBS All Access. That means all shows and movies currently accessible to CBS All Access subscribers will remain in place. The service will just switch on the March 4 launch date – current users will see their CBS All Access accounts and apps updated to reflect the new branding.
What new content is coming to Paramount +?
In addition to the catalog of CBS television shows and original, streaming-exclusive series such as Star Trek Discovery, The Good Fight, The Stand, and The Twilight Zone, the merger will add a lot of new content. Featured in the pre-launch is ad content from the following libraries:
- CBS television, including live broadcasts from the local affiliate
- CBS Sports productions, including some live events
- Back catalog of Paramount movies (about 1000 at launch)
- Comedy Central
- The Smithsonian Channel
However, it is somewhat misleading to call all this new content ‘new’. After the latest merger of Viacom, CBS All Access immediately started adding some of the content from the Viacom library. Notably, the CBS All Access Movie Catalog currently has about 650 submissions (although dozens of those are one-off stand-up comedy specials and Smithsonian Channel TV documentaries).
It seems clear that the Paramount + switch will include a lot of new stuff. But if you’re not tempted by one of the current catalogs on CBS All Access, then you probably won’t be impressed with Paramount + either.
What original shows will Paramount + have?
Paramount + has all of the original shows from CBS All Access, plus new exclusive TV and a few movies. According to both the official CBS list and various media reports, the upcoming library includes:
- Three new Star Trek series: Strange new worlds and Section 31, and an animated show for children, Child prodigy
- The Spongebob Movie: Sponge on the Run, a new animated movie available on launch day (previously unavailable in the US)
- Camp Koral: SpongeBob’s Under Years, an animated prequel series
- 8 fights, a documentary series about Muhammad Ali
- A reboot of iCarly
- A new Flashdance TV series
- For heaven’s sake, a comic series about real crimes
- A reboot of The game series of BET
- Girls with guns, a new series from Ridley Scott
- Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies, a historical comedy
- Guilty party, a dark comedy series
- Happy face, a thriller show
- The Harper House, an animated comedy series
- Lioness, a thriller series
- The Man Who Fell to Earth, a sci-fi series based on a classic novel
- Mercy House, adapted from a thriller novel
- MTV’s Behind the Music: The Top 40
- The multivorce, an animated sci-fi comedy
- The offer, a drama miniseries
- The Real Criminal Minds, a true crime documentary series
- Remote, a comedy at work
- Twenty four seven, a thriller series
- J: 1883, a prequel to Yellowstone
- You’re killing me, a supernatural comedy drama
It’s not clear what new Paramount movies will be available, or how soon, given the ever-changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic. Warner Bros. has promised all of its 2021 releases for same-day streaming on HBO Max, while Disney has released some movies for free on Disney +, others for a one-time fee. Right now the new SpongeBob film is the only major release to appear on Paramount +, after a long-delayed theatrical release in the US.
How much does Paramount + costs?
All current indications are that Paramount + will continue with the CBS All Access pricing model, although this is not quite on the promotion page. The current US price for CBS All Access is:
- $ 5.99 per month with commercials
- $ 9.99 without ads (live broadcasts still have ads)
Customers can save a little with annual billing: $ 60 and $ 100, a savings of $ 12 and $ 20, respectively. At the moment, CBS All Access is running an action: Pay for a year of the commercial free service before the Paramount + switchover and you get a 50% discount, which remains active once the new service starts. You must register for CBS All Access before March 4 to be eligible.
CBS All Access is only available in the US, Canada and Australia, and Paramount + comes in all three countries. Paramount + will also launch in Latin America on March 4. An expansion to Scandinavian countries and other unspecified markets is planned in the future. Availability of shows and movies varies from market to market.
Which platforms have a Paramount + app?
CBS has stated that the CBS All Access app will be updated to the Paramount + app on March 4. CBS All Access is currently available on:
- iOS and iPad OS
- Apple TV
- Amazon Fire TV, Fire tablets
- Android TV
- Play station
- Portal TV
- Smart TV platforms from Samsung, LG, Vizio and Xfinity
And of course, Paramount + will be available through standard web browsers on Windows, MacOS, Chrome OS and Linux by going to ParamountPlus.com.