It's time for yet another streaming service—sort of. ViacomCBS has announced that Paramount+ will launch on March 4, but it's more of an evolution than a wholly new service, as it replaces and expands upon the company's previous service, CBS All Access.
The move to replace CBS All Access was announced several months ago. It's in large part a result of the completion of the merger between CBS and Viacom, as CBS All Access launched before that merger, but the merger greatly increased the content library that could be put on a streaming service run by the company.
In addition to shows associated with the CBS TV network, Paramount+ will include content from properties Viacom brought to the mix, including MTV, BET, Comedy Central, VH1, and Nickelodeon, as well as theatrically released films from Paramount Pictures.
Beyond the myriad Star Trek shows that CBS All Access has already offered, planned original series for Paramount+ include a series based on The Godfather as well as a revival of VH1's Behind the Music.
March 4 is the planned launch day in the US and Latin America, and a launch is planned in Nordic countries on March 25, as well as Australia around the middle of the year. Canada will also receive the service sometime this year, but a date has not been named—however, CBS All Access will be rebranded to Paramount+ right away in that country even before new content is introduced.
Before this point, CBS All Access was arguably best known for its various Star Trek programs; it included all the Star Trek TV series that aired on broadcast TV in the past, plus new Trek series like Discovery, Picard, and Lower Decks. It did not, however, have the Star Trek movies at first, as those were owned by Paramount. The merger brought all Star Trek TV and movie content under one corporate roof.
CBS All Access also aired live TV, sports programming, and some additional shows like the critically acclaimed The Good Fight. Those will continue under Paramount+.
The past year and a half has seen numerous new streaming networks launch, including Peacock (NBC Universal), Disney+, and HBO Max, among others.
The onslaught has disappointed those who expected a service like Netflix or Hulu to offer virtually all content for a flat $10-per-month fee, but that was never going to be economically viable, especially as production costs for TV series have risen in recent years as viewers have responded to more lavishly produced shows—something the industry refers to as "prestige TV."
The new normal for TV appears to be similar in some respects to cable, with each media company delivering a channel that primarily consists of the company's own content, plus small amounts of licensed content.
Still, there are some significant differences in the new normal as compared to how TV used to work, even beyond the fact that the content is now delivered over the Internet. For example, the services aren't bundled, so viewers can pick and choose which channels to pay for, and there are far fewer (and in some cases, no) commercials.