ViacomCBS's 'Paramount+' to Join Streaming Skirmish

ViacomCBS's 'Paramount+' to Join Streaming Skirmish

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ViacomCBS’s flagship streaming service will be rebranded Paramount+, after the company’s Paramount movie studio.



Photo:

Nick Ut/Associated Press

ViacomCBS Inc.


VIAC 1.98%

said it plans to launch an expanded version of its flagship streaming service early next year, leveraging the catalog of programs created by last year’s merger of Viacom and CBS.

Now known as CBS All Access, the service will be rebranded Paramount+, after ViacomCBS’s Paramount movie studio. It will relaunch with a slate of original shows exclusive to Paramount+, including “Lioness,” a spy drama from “Yellowstone” creator Taylor Sheridan, and “The Offer,” a scripted series about the making of the mafia saga “The Godfather.”

ViacomCBS didn’t disclose pricing details or specify whether it would show ads to Paramount+ subscribers. CBS All Access costs $5.99 a month with ads and $9.99 a month without.

Paramount+ will compete for streaming subscribers in a bustling marketplace that includes

Netflix Inc.

and

Amazon.com Inc.

as well as newcomers such as

Walt Disney Co.

’s Disney+,

AT&T Inc.’s

HBO Max and

Comcast Corp.

’s Peacock.

On Tuesday, Comcast Chief Executive Brian Roberts said during an investor conference that Peacock has 15 million sign-ups. A spokesman for Comcast declined to say how many of those are paying subscribers. Comcast customers can access Peacock at no charge, though customers of other providers must pay a monthly fee.

Paramount+ will be the exclusive home of a rebooted version of the long-running MTV show “Behind the Music” and “The Real Criminal Minds,” a true-crime documentary series based on CBS Television’s “Criminal Minds.”

Paramount+ will also offer the existing library of shows, movies and live TV programming now on CBS All Access, which includes news, National Football League games and drama series such as “The Good Fight” and multiple installments of the “Star Trek” franchise.

Showtime, the premium cable channel and streaming service owned by ViacomCBS, won’t be integrated with Paramount+ in the U.S., according to a company spokeswoman, but Paramount+ subscribers in Australia, Latin America and Nordic countries will have access to some Showtime shows.

Paramount+ is a priority for ViacomCBS, which is trying to catch the rising tide of direct-to-consumer streaming while navigating the decline of paid television. In August, ViacomCBS said it had 16.2 million domestic paid streaming subscribers in the U.S., up 72% from a year earlier, and 26.5 million domestic monthly active users of its advertising-supported Pluto TV streaming service, up 61%. The company said that its domestic streaming and digital-video business grew 25% to $489 million in the quarter ending June 30.

More growth will be in the coming years to offset declines in the company’s cable business, which includes properties such as MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon. About 2 million U.S. households cut the cable cord in the second quarter of 2020, according to analyst firm MoffettNathanson.

When Viacom announced its merger with CBS last year, a major selling point of the deal was a combined catalog of shows and movies that it could sell directly to consumers.

Even as it built its own streaming services, ViacomCBS has licensed some of its most popular shows and movies to rivals. Last year, HBO Max bought the rights to Comedy Central’s “South Park” in a deal worth around $600 million, The Wall Street Journal reported. In July, NBCUniversal announced it struck a deal for Paramount films including “The Godfather” trilogy, “Catch Me If You Can” and “The Talented Mr. Ripley” for an undisclosed amount.

Write to Benjamin Mullin at Benjamin.Mullin@wsj.com

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