'Godfather' Series a Go as CBS All Access Renamed Paramount+

The Godfather (1972)  Still 1 - Photofest-H 2018
Paramount Pictures/Photofest

ViacomCBS is turning to a 100-year-old brand to bolster its streaming business.

The company plans to rebrand CBS All Access as Paramount+ in early 2021, stocking the expanded service with originals that have close ties to well-known franchises, from The Godfather to Criminal Minds to The Game.

“Paramount is an iconic and storied brand beloved by consumers all over the world, and it is synonymous with quality, integrity and world-class storytelling,” CEO Bob Bakish said in a statement. “With Paramount+, we’re excited to establish one global streaming brand in the broad-pay segment that will draw on the sheer breadth and depth of the ViacomCBS portfolio to offer an extraordinary collection of content for everyone to enjoy.”

In the lead-up to the rebrand, ViacomCBS has been filling CBS All Access with additional programming from its portfolio of networks, including BET, Comedy Central, MTV and Nickelodeon, with plans to offer a library of 30,000 TV episodes and movies.

The company will also beef up the service’s original programming offerings, adding to a lineup that currently includes The Good Fight and Star Trek: Discovery with a mix of scripted, unscripted and kids’ series. Among the projects in the works is The Offer, a 10-episode scripted limited series from writer-executive producer Michael Tolkin about Al Ruddy’s experience producing The Godfather. CBS All Access added the Godfather trilogy to its catalog this summer but will share the films with NBCUniversal's Peacock, which will up the streaming exposure for the classic titles through a large licensing deal with ViacomCBS that gives it the rights for a limited exclusive window from 2021 to 2023.

CBS TV Studios and Grammnet Productions are also developing a revival of Mara Brock Akil sitcom The Game, which ran for nine seasons on The CW and BET and now streams on Netflix, as part of BET’s programming on the streamer. Meanwhile, Taylor Sheridan has created spy drama Lioness, about a young Marine recruited to befriend the daughter of a terrorist in order to bring the organization down. The latter series hails from Sheridan, the creator of Paramount Network's Yellowstone and will reflect that brand on the streaming service.

Paramount+ will also be the home of The Real Criminal Minds, a true crime docuseries based on the long-running procedural from CBS TV Studios that ended in February and a reimagined Behind the Music from MTV that looks at the 40 biggest artists of the past 40 years.

These projects join the previously announced children’s series Kamp Koral, set in the world of Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants.

Paramount+ is the name already used for ViacomCBS’ streaming offering in Latin America and the Nordics, and the company will now also use the name to rebrand its Australian streaming service 10 All Access. It also plans to relaunch these existing services and use the Paramount+ brand for future new services in international markets.

Internationally, Paramount+ will serve as the home for not just Viacom and CBS programming but also premiers from premium cable network Showtime. In the U.S., ViacomCBS will continue to operate a separate Showtime streaming service.

Said David Lynn, president and CEO of ViacomCBS Networks International (VCNI): "With the global launch of Paramount+ we are poised to become as powerful a player in streaming as we are in TV. VCNI is focused on building a meaningful, global brand presence in our key markets, generating material advertising, subscription and licensing revenue from streaming. By leveraging the iconic Paramount brand, leading-edge infrastructure from ViacomCBS along with an incredible, super-sized pipeline of must-see content, Paramount+ will deliver an exceptional consumer entertainment experience and significantly disrupt the streaming industry."

CBS All Access first launched in October 2014, one of the first in a wave of standalone streaming services from television networks. The offering, which offers subscriptions starting at $6 per month, originally looked to bring CBS into the streaming age through originals like The Good Wife spinoff The Good Fight, a fresh take on Star Trek and a reimagined Twilight Zone. Combined, CBS All Access and Showtime had 16.2 million subscribers at the end of June.

Though the official rebrand of CBS All Access won’t take place until next year, ViacomCBS has already begun to beef up its content library, including adding a number of Paramount Movies and live European soccer to the lineup. The company says the service broke a record for total monthly streams in August and had one of its best months ever in terms of subscriber sign-ups. Chief digital officer Marc DeBevoise said in a statement that the early response “illustrates the tremendous opportunity ahead of us in bringing these phenomenal ViacomCBS brands together in one premium streaming home under the new Paramount+ name.”

This is the second time that Viacom has leaned on the Paramount legacy as a way to rebrand one of its offerings. In early 2017, the conglomerate rebranded Spike TV as Paramount Network. Former network chief Kevin Kay told THR at the time that consumers believed the "Paramount" represented "quality, cinematography, great characters, great stories. The Godfather, Mission: Impossible, Transformers."

Georg Szalai in London contributed to this report.