Merged media companies CBS and Viacom have finally publicly acknowledged something we’ve known for the last year: Their combined catalogs is one of the best in the business in terms of variety of content and nostalgia power.
The merger for what would become ViacomCBS was announced last August, which led to the obvious speculation that the company’s content could be a worthy competitor for Netflix in the ongoing Streaming Wars. That idea was then bolstered by ViacomCBS’ own announcement that the merger would also lead to a new streaming service that combined all the goodness that CBS and Viacom proper had access to. All Access, if you will.
As Vulture reports, ViacomCBS is expected to unveil their new slate of streaming programming, along with a revamped user interface, for CBS All Access. That programming includes dozes of titles — though we’d like to see an actual list of all of them, please — from Viacom’s catalog, including Nickelodeon, MTV, BET and Comedy Central. Yes, that means Avatar: The Last Airbender, the Nickelodeon animated series that found new life during its tenure on Netflix this summer, will be a big draw for the new-to-you streaming service. This is the next step in ViacomCBS’ overall plans for a total revamp of CBS All Access, which will get a re-branding makeover sometime in 2021.
So what all is arriving on the new service? Roughly 70 new TV titles with 3,500 additional episodes of ViacomCBS-owned properties, and a bolstering of the Paramount movies collection that were added to the service a couple of months ago, adding some 150 feature films. Some TV titles include Comedy Central’s Chappelle’s Show, Strangers with Candy, and Reno 911!; BET’s Real Husbands of Hollywood and Single Ladies; VH1 / Logo’s RuPaul’s Drag Race and Love & Hip Hop; MTV’s Laguna Beach, Teen Mom 2, The Challenge and Jersey Shore: Family Vacation; and Nickelodeon’s Rugrats, Spongebob Squarepants and more. Note that not all seasons of all titles will be available and episodes / season availability will vary quite a bit.
To keep all the channels, brands, and icons straight, users will soon see a new interface that separates all this content into its own hubs. So if you want Nickelodeon content, you click on the Nickelodeon icon and head to that channel; easy peasy. It’s one thing that the soon-to-be-rebranded CBS All Access, and its fellow streaming services like HBO Max and Peacock TV, have over Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu: A robust and diverse selection of instantly recognizable brands that tell you exactly what kind of content lies on the other side.
And yet ViacomCBS not only plans to draw in a wider and more diverse subscriber base with the addition of this new content, they’re also more than happy to share it out to other platforms. While that certainly muddies the waters somewhat, it’s arguably a clearer and cleaner method than trying to juggle exclusive streaming windows on a dozen or more services; new streaming platforms have been plagued by inconsistent libraries and disappearing titles, making it more frustrating than it’s worth for subscribers to keep track of everything. So a bonus point to ViacomCBS for attempting to simplify that process, even if it means that, yes, both Avatar: The Last Airbender and its sequel series The Legend of Korra will be available on both Netflix and CBS All Access at the same time.
There’s money to be made in both exclusively hosting content — which will mostly be ViacomCBS’ new original programming and live-action / sports offerings — and sharing it out to other platforms. ViacomCBS seems to have figured that out faster than its competitors. What remains to be seen, however, is what the newly rebranded streaming service will be and how seamless its evolution really is over the next year or so. Stay tuned!