Why Yellowstone, Paramount’s Biggest Show, Doesn’t Air on Paramount Plus


Kevin Costner stars in Yellowstone, which was the most-watched scripted show on cable TV last year.

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Paramount Network’s hit cowboy drama Yellowstone returns on Sunday. The premiere of its fourth season will reveal who survived last year’s finale, an episode that drew the most mainstream of all scripted cable TV shows in 2020. For those looking to catch up with the seasons past or staying on top of new episodes as they arrive, the Paramount Plus streaming service would seem like the natural place to turn to. But counterintuitively, the single TV show most associated with the Paramount name is nowhere to be found on Paramount Plus.

If you want to binge on Yellowstone, you have to head to Paramount Plus’s rival. peacock, which has an exclusive agreement to be the only subscription streaming service with the first three seasons. If you want to stream the new episodes of Yellowstone in the coming weeks, you will have to try to unlock the Paramount Network app, not Paramount Plus. And once season four is over, that whole bunch of new episodes of Yellowstone will move to a subscription streaming service – but again, that will be Peacock.

As confusing as it sounds, it’s by design. Yellowstone isn’t the only high-profile ViacomCBS title missing from Paramount Plus and airing elsewhere: if you’re looking for South Park from Comedy Central, you need to check it out HBO Max, for example. Content licensing is big business for ViacomCBS, as is the revenue generated from a successful show on a traditional cable network like Paramount Network. ViacomCBS has bet that some high-end shows can make more money – and reach more eyeballs – if they’re available elsewhere than Paramount Plus, even if that means a big Paramount show like Yellowstone isn’t on. Paramount Plus to everyone.

Like the others in the parade of new streaming services, including Disney plus, HBO Max, Apple TV Plus, Peacock, Discovery More and others, Paramount Plus is hoping that its particular TV and movie concoction hooks you to its own vision for the future of television. But Byzantine licensing deals like ViacomCBS for Yellowstone emphasize that even when a new service like Paramount Plus is launched by rallying to its own content, it isn’t necessarily much easier for you to find and watch your favorite shows and movies. in line.

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The main distinction to understand when it comes to how to stream Yellowstone is that Paramount Plus is different from Paramount Network, where Yellowstone will launch its fourth season on Sunday.

On Paramount Plus, you can’t stream Yellowstone – old or new episodes – at all.

Paramount Network is a traditional cable channel accessible to people who pay for it through an over-the-air television provider, and Paramount Network’s programming is available to stream on the web at paramountnetwork.com or its Paramount Network app. But it’s only available to stream for people who are already paying for the channel with one of those over-the-air TV subscriptions, like cable, satellite, or a live streaming service like YouTube TV or Philo.

If you want to stream the new episodes of Yellowstone’s fourth season, the only place to stream them early will be on the Paramount Network website or app. And these episodes of Yellowstone will be available to stream only to “authenticated” online viewers – that is, people who can log in with their live TV service credentials to prove that they are. already pay for Paramount Network.

One exception: The Yellowstone Sunday season premiere will be outside of the paywall, so everyone should be able to watch Sunday’s show on the Paramount Network app or website.

If you want to binge on Yellowstone’s previous seasons, the Paramount Network app and website have them too.

But if you’re a cable cutter or don’t have access to Paramount Network, you need to head to Peacock to stream the first three seasons. The fourth season will also air on Peacock. Peacock has yet to announce when he will begin airing the fourth season of Yellowstone, but you can expect it to be sometime after the season finale ends on Paramount Network.

So what did Paramount Plus actually relate to Yellowstone? Finally, fallout. On December 19, Paramount Plus will begin airing a prequel titled 1883, which focuses on the Dutton family over a century ago as they move west and establish the Yellowstone Ranch. And on November 14, Paramount Plus will present Mayor of Kingstown, a drama series co-created by Yellowstone creator Taylor Sheridan; While the mayor of Kingstown is not directly linked to Yellowstone, Paramount Plus presents it as a bit of a spiritual spinoff.

Why you can not stream Yellowstone on Paramount Plus

Each new streaming service launched from Hollywood makes its own mind about how much and what to keep to itself. Some streaming services have been aggressive in grabbing their titles on their own services.

Disney has been tough on letting its agreements expire if they license its shows and movies to other services. This included a major deal that allowed Netflix to stream Disney theatrical movies for an estimated $ 200 million to $ 300 million per year over four years. But Disney Plus wanted to become a reliable hub for its own catalog, so Disney let that Netflix deal run out and stopped buying those blockbusters to compete with services.

NBCUniversal, in addition to licensing Yellowstone for its Peacock service, won the rights to its own comeback show The Office from Netflix earlier this year so that Peacock could exclusively air the sitcom.

And WarnerMedia’s HBO Max has repeatedly reclaimed the rights to all eight Harry Potter films from NBCUniversal and Peacock. Warner Bros. from WarnerMedia licensed all of these movies to NBCUniversal years ago in an epic deal. This put NBCUniversal’s Peacock online to stream them rather than HBO Max. But WarnerMedia occasionally picked them up, giving it the chance to boost HBO Max with a popular franchise.

Paramount Plus, however, has not been so aggressive, neither in keeping its main properties in its own fold nor in reclaiming those for which it is licensed elsewhere.

Part of the reason is that the licensing of titles can be a lucrative business. So far this year, ViacomCBS has earned $ 4.6 billion from licensing, nearly a quarter of the company’s total revenue. That money comes from a range of licenses, from TV syndication to stuffed animals and Paw Patrol costumes. But the exploitation of titles like Yellowstone, South Park and others to direct rivals of Paramount Plus is also part of it. When you license your own programming to your own service exclusively, you are giving up heaps of money that you could have made if you had licensed it to someone else.

And ViacomCBS has a big catalog to tap into: around 140,000 TV episodes and 4,000 movies. The company doesn’t want all of that on Paramount Plus.

“We can’t keep all of this to ourselves. It doesn’t make sense,” CEO Bob Bakish said a year ago, as Paramount Plus prepared for the launch. “It’s too much.”

Bakish has repeatedly said the company’s strategy is “evolving” in terms of how much of its own programming it should allow and how much it should keep to itself, making the same refrain on Thursday. The company’s licensing strategy has “changed to become much more focused” on having its own franchises on its own streaming service, he said. But the “legacy contracts” the company entered into before Paramount Plus launched can have a long tail, he added.

However, beyond the money ViacomCBS earns from licensing, Paramount Plus also believes it could attract more new members if it allows other larger services to have some of its titles to stream. Bakish noted that other platforms may expand an older show’s audience so that its reboots and spinoffs have a larger fan base for Paramount Plus.

It’s kind of a perverse logic. But Netflix has more than 213 million subscribers worldwide, while Paramount Plus has fewer – probably far fewer – than 47 million. ViacomCBS is betting that leasing Nickelodeon’s iCarly back catalog to Netflix may help spark a larger fandom, which in turn could be drawn to Paramount Plus for its exclusive reboot of the series. Interest in Avatar: The Last Airbender increased last year when the show hit Netflix, which certainly helped motivate ViacomCBS ‘decision to launch a new studio dedicated to Avatar fees– related programming.

But that strategy also means that when the 1883 Yellowstone prequel hits Paramount Plus in December, chronicling the Dutton family’s arrival in Montana over a century ago, strangers will have to go elsewhere to find out who even the Dutton.


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