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ViacomCBS unveils Paramount+ strategy, unscripted slate

ViacomCBS unveiled its streaming strategy yesterday (Feb. 25) ahead of the launch of Paramount+ this March, announcing a number of new unscripted series and documentaries set to premiere in the ...
February 25, 2021

ViacomCBS unveiled its streaming strategy yesterday (Feb. 25) ahead of the launch of Paramount+ this March, announcing a number of new unscripted series and documentaries set to premiere in the coming years.

The service will feature a combination of live sports, breaking news and entertainment from the mediaco’s portfolio of brands and production studios, including BET, CBS, MTV and Smithsonian Channel.

A slate of more than 50 exclusive original series — including reality and documentary — are set to premiere on the service in the next two years, with 36 arriving in 2021.

The originals join a content catalog of more than 30,000 episodes and 2,500 movie titles.

On the reality front, the service will feature a catalog of more than 5,000 episodes, with a number of originals and reprisals — including Queens of the Universe, a new drag queen singing competition series from RuPaul’s Drag Race producer World of Wonder.

Paramount+ will also host the reboot of Road Rules, which first aired in 1995, as well as The Challenge: All Stars, a reprisal of The Challenge that will see 22 contestants from the original series — a spin-off of Real World and Road Rules – return for a second chance at the competition.

After nearly 30 years, the original seven cast members of The Real World will return for a multi-episode docuseries, The Real World: Homecoming: New York (pictured), premiering March 4.

Additional reality titles slated include Big Brother Live Feeds, offering a peek inside the Big Brother house; Dating Naked, a social experiment series that aired on VH1 from 2014 to 2016; and tattoo competition series Ink Master.

Paramount+ will also feature an extension of the dating format Love Island that will feature exclusive content and live visits to the villa; as well as a new season of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars.

In the music genre, MTV unlocks its vault with new and exclusive series including a previously-announced reboot of Behind the Music; and the new six-part unscripted series From Cradle to Stage, directed by musician Dave Grohl.

Paramount+ will also bring back Yo! MTV Raps, the hip-hop series and music franchise that first aired in 1988. It will include hosted segments, live performances, cyphers and lifestyle content, and will serve as a deep dive into the current state of hip-hop.

The streamer’s lineup of documentaries from CBS News, CBSN, CBS Sports MTV Documentary Films and Smithsonian Channel include Hao Wu and Weixi Chen’s 76 Days; Black Gold, from director Darren Aronofsky’s Protozoa and Time Studios; and comedy-true crime docuseries For Heaven’s Sake.

Heaven’s Sake is produced by Muse Entertainment in Association with Funny Or Die and CBS Television Studios, and CBC in Canada.

It is created by and stars Mike Mildon and Jackson Rowe (Trophy Husbands). Mildon and Rowe will also executive produce alongside Tony Yacenda and Dan Perrault (American Vandal), Joe Farrell (Funny Or Die) as well as Jonas Prupas and Courtney Dobbins (Muse Entertainment). The series will be directed by Tim Johnson (Virginia 12th).

As previously announced, the streamer will also feature docuseries The Real Criminal Minds, examining real cases and real criminal behavior illustrated by clips from the fictional series Criminal Minds.

Also on the documentary slate is the MTV Entertainment Studios series Watergate; Manchester United documentary Sir Alex Ferguson: Never Give In; and soccer docuseries Stories from the Beautiful Game, produced by Pete Radovich.

In addition to long-lead productions, ViacomCBS will also produce exclusive Insta Docs for Paramount+. These instant documentaries will be released within days of breaking news and will dive deeper into events that capture the attention of the nation.

Paramount+ will have two pricing tiers available to U.S. subscribers that marry the best of live and on-demand programming: a premium tier priced for US$9.99 and an ad-support tier, available in June, for $4.99

The service will debut internationally in 18 Latin American countries and Canada on March 4, 2021, the Nordics on March 25, 2021 and Australia with a rebrand and expansion of 10 All Access later this year, with additional markets to follow.

The news comes as ViacomCBS reported revenues of $6.9 billion in the fourth quarter of 2020, up 3% from the year-ago quarter, as its domestic streaming subscribers rose to 19.2 million.

ViacomCBS also reported a 71% increase in global streaming and digital video revenue, as well as a 4% increase in advertising revenue.

The mediaco first announced plans to rebrand CBS All Access to Paramount+ in September 2020.

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