USA TODAY TV Critic Kelly Lawler discusses how the COVID-19 pandemic affected TV shows, networks and productions in 2020.
Paramount+ is climbing the mountain of streaming services competing for your wallet.
The newest service, launching March 4, is from ViacomCBS, parent of the Paramount movie studio and networks including CBS, MTV, BET and Nickelodeon. It replaces CBS All Access, a relatively early streaming entrant that launched in 2014 and has offered shows from CBS and original series ranging from “Star Trek: Discovery” to “The Good Fight.”
But Paramount+ aims to marshal a wider range of the company’s content, from a cast reunion of the inaugural 1992 season of “The Real World,” MTV’s prototypical reality show, to a “SpongeBob SquarePants” feature film and prequel series to a revival of the NBC comedy “Frasier” starring Kelsey Grammer (no word on whether other cast members will return).
Pricing plan: Paramount+ to launch next week starting at $4.99 with ads
‘Frasier,’ NBC’s hit spin-off of ‘Cheers,’ will be back in a revival starring Kelsey Grammer on the Paramount+ streaming service. (Photo: Courtesy of CBS Television Distribution)
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Like many other streaming services owned by large entertainment companies, Paramount+ is tapping its library of film and TV titles for a seemingly endless series of remakes, reboots and revivals, including “Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies,” a musical prequel; a new “Flashdance” drama series; and new spins on decades-old movies, including “Love Story,” “The Italian Job,” “Fatal Attraction” and “The Parallax View.”
Like CBS All Access (but not most competitors), the new service will also feature live sports, including NFL games, NCAA’s March Madness men’s basketball and The Masters golf tournament. There will be new versions of CBS newsmagazines “60 Minutes” and “48 Hours” with new correspondents. And live feeds of your local CBS station will offer local news.
A new “SpongeBob SquarePants” movie and a prequel series, “Kamp Koral,” will premiere on Paramount+ March 4. (Photo: Courtesy of Nickelodeon)
The service, which now costs $5.99 a month, will drop to $4.99 in June (or $9.99 for an ad-free version that also includes sports and live CBS TV shows). Both tiers promise 36 original series in 2021, including a new reality series each month, and a library of TV reruns and 2,500 movies from the Paramount and Miramax Films libraries, including “The Godfather,” “Forrest Gump” and “Top Gun.” A handful of new releases, including “A Quiet Place 2,” due in September, and “Mission: Impossible 7,” in November, will show up on Paramount+ 45 days after they debut in theaters.
Among new shows: “The Offer,” a previously announced documentary series that tracks the making of “The Godfather,” a revival of “The Game” and a new version of former CBS series “Criminal Minds,” focusing on a single case over each 10-episode season, with a new cast.
Showtime’s long-planned adaptation of videogame “Halo,” now due in 2022, will stream on Paramount+ instead. And the final season of TV Land’s “Younger” will also stream on the new service, part of ViacomCBS’ move to pare back original programming on many of its basic cable networks and migrate it to the streaming world.
Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl will direct a new six-part series that explores the relationship between famous musicians and their mothers and was inspired by his mom Virginia Hanlon Grohl’s 2017 book “From Cradle to Stage: Stories from the Mothers Who Rocked and Raised Rock Stars.”
The new ’60 Minutes+’ will stream exclusively on Paramount+. (Photo: CBS)
“Rugrats,” “Reno 911,” “iCarly,” “Behind the Music” and “Beavis and Butt-head” are also among shows planning revivals. But others are conspicuously missing: The company sold reruns of Comedy Central’s top-rated series “South Park” to rival WarnerMedia’s HBO Max, in a deal worth a reported $500 million. You can find “Chappelle’s Show” on Netflix and HBO Max. Paramount Network’s (and cable TV’s) top drama “Yellowstone” was licensed to Comcast’s Peacock, although Paramount+ will stream a “Yellowstone” prequel series.
At the moment, Netflix and Disney+ are the streaming kings, with 200 million and 95 million global subscribers, respectively, so Paramount+ has a tall order competing with those giants along with Apple TV+, Hulu, Discovery+ and other rivals. The company reported Wednesday that CBS All Access and Showtime have a combined 19.2 million streaming customers. Showtime and BET+ will retain their separate streaming services.
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