Paramount+ is about to launch and it is replacing CBS All Access. But there is a misunderstanding about the service, that it is simply the same service with a new name. It is not. CBS All Access was an example of an app that was so tightly associated with a certain audience and type of programming that it could not logically expand into other avenues as the streaming space grew. And in the case of CBS, its portfolio exploded all at once causing the branding not to make sense anymore.
CBS All Access was originally, just as the name indicated, a CBS streaming service. Besides access to CBS programming from throughout the history of the network it also allowed access to live feeds of a subscribers local CBS affiliate as well as a couple of original shows highlighted by Star Trek Discovery and The Good Fight. But then CBS made up with its former partner Viacom. Viacom had been part of CBS at one point and was basically the cable arm of the legacy broadcast company. But over time the two entities grew apart with Viacom spinning out as its own thing. As the market continued to change Viacom and CBS remerged to become ViacomCBS. Now that it was one big happy family there was a place for all of these Viacom brands to highlight its wares. But that place was CBS All Access. Nobody is going to immediately associate an app called CBS All Access with The Daily Show or MTV’s Real World. They think 60 Minutes or Blue Bloods. So while Viacom-based programming was worked into the mix, it was not really a good fit for the branding in the way Disney+ was able to launch clean as a service with hubs for its various brands. That is what Paramount+ fixes. But the thing is, that if you have seen CBS All Access of late and think Paramount+ will look the same you are incorrect. Here are some of the big differences.
Local station access is changing
For about $5.00 CBS All Access offered users a direct stream of their local CBS affiliate in many markets along with on-demand access to CBS shows a limited selection of movies and original shows. If users paid $10.00 they could not only get access to all of that but they could see on-demand programming without commercials. Paramount+ will be different. The $5.00 package will not include live access to local CBS channels. The $10.00 commercial-free package will carry the CBS affiliates exclusively.
This might be a big problem for those who depended on CBS All Access for certain kinds of live programming like say “The Price Is Right” or their local news. But for those who primarily wanted it bc CBS is home to say the NFL’s AFC the good news is that even the lower tier service will still allow users to access that kind of programming live. This includes CBS’s NCAA Tournament coverage. Other major sporting events will be available too. Think about it like Amazon offering Thursday Night Football. Prime doesn’t provide the NFL Network, but it does have its top show.
It will have a lot more original programming
CBS All Access in many ways began to come off as the Star Trek Streaming Channel with its most successful shows all seemingly stemming from the Universe established by Gene Rodenberry so many years ago. While it had a number of valiant attempts at other programming nothing outside of The Good Fight, a sequel to the CBS series “Th Good Wife”. Paramount+ has plans to deliver a much bigger slate of original programming that will lean on its roots but deliver a much bigger variety. Yes there will be more Star Trek red meat on the way, but for instance, there will be a Frasier revival, the streaming service will be the home of the final season of “Younger” which originally aired on TV Land. Paramount+ has a number of other projects in the works from across its brands(networks) and shows based on hit movies of the past and other things you can check out here.
It will be a new movie hub
Paramount+ is banking on the branding of Paramount Studious to make it more universally marketable. And it plans to provide the goods when it comes to major film releases. The company already announced that Mission Impossible 2 will be available on the service 45 days after it hits movie theaters. That is not the only one. The service will be a new way to distribute content and build the brand. Now whether this is a temporary pandemic era move or an adjustment in the way it interfaces with the exhibition industry will play out over the next few years. But there is a lot of thought that the movie business is changing now in ways that will never flip back.
It will not be a TV Everywhere portal
CBS All Access has long served two purposes. It has been a subscription streaming service and a TV Everywhere app. This allowed it to avoid the confusion dealt with by HBO with two apps labeled as HBO. We are not going down that road here. The app had two ways to sign in. One using a CBS All Access name and password and one sign-in option using a TV provider login. CBS will not use this model going forward. It will in fact launch a new CBS app specifically to address customers who receive CBS via a pay-TV provider. The programming will reflect CBS programming and no longer be a hybrid service. The app will allow pay service user to watch their local affiliate live and watch current CBS shows on-demand.
We hope that all makes sense. It will not be the last time The Streaming Advisor takes on this topic.