Paramount Movie Network Has Been Nixed

A major rebrand of Paramount Network that's been in the works for over a year has now been reversed, according to Deadline. The change in strategy reportedly comes in part thanks to the continued success of the network's biggest series, "Yellowstone."

In September 2020, the channel's parent company, ViacomCBS, reportedly started making moves towards turning the network into Paramount Movie Network. The planned makeover involved airing 52 original films per year, along with one scripted series per quarter. This plan sounds similar to the current Netflix strategy, which saturates the streamer with new original content every week.

The Network Has Already Been Reshuffled

This plan was more than theoretical. Soon after Chris McCarthy, President and CEO of ViacomCBS Media Networks announced the pivot strategy, several Paramount Network shows were canceled. "Ink Master" and "Wife Swap" were among the unscripted series that got the ax, while other shows, like viral-video friendly "Lip Sync Battle," were set to move to other networks.

Meghan Hooper White, who joined the company as EVP and Head of Original Movies and Limited Series in 2020, was poised to help develop the network's original movie slate. However, Hooper White reportedly left the company in 2021. The show renewed one of the series that had been planned to move — "Bar Rescue" — in May of that year, which may have been an early sign that their plan to pivot wasn't actually going to happen. Before they changed course, though, they also moved the series "The Last Cowboy" to the CMT network and planned to put "Ink Master" on their own streamer, Paramount+.

If there's one property that probably influenced Paramount Network's decision to stay the course, it's likely Taylor Sheridan and John Linson's incredibly popular series "Yellowstone." The series is currently airing its fourth season, the premiere of which became the most-watched cable telecast since 2017. The show, which follows the trials and tribulations of ranchers, Indigenous tribes, and developers living in Montana, has already spawned a successful spin-off, "1883."

A Win For Week-To-Week Storytelling?

McCarthy has previously expressed an appreciation for both streaming and linear television, telling Deadline, "We think that there is an opportunity to grow in both [linear and streaming]. We use linear platforms as a launchpad to help bring those massive audiences." Though it's too early to tell if Paramount has any other major plans in the pipeline, it's probably a good idea for the network to stick with what's working.

2021 saw a renewed interest in week-to-week storytelling, with shows like "WandaVision," "The White Lotus," and "Yellowjackets" benefiting from positive word of mouth with each new episode. Meanwhile, the Netflix model of content saturation has become overwhelming for audiences who value quality over quantity. Moves like this one reveal the struggle media companies are facing to decide which of the two strategies will be a hit with viewers in the future.

At the moment, "Yellowstone" is the channel's only scripted show, but the musical biopic "George & Tammy" is set to debut on the channel after its initial release on Spectrum Originals later this year. The series will be a reunion for "Take Shelter" costars Jessica Chastain and Michael Shannon, with a supporting cast that includes Steve Zahn, Kelly McCormack, and Katy Mixon.