The remerged ViacomCBS has already announced its intentions to expand CBS All Access, home to the Star Trek Universe on TV, and relaunch the service with a new brand in early 2021. Integration of more content from across the ViacomCBS portfolio has already begun, with the goal of transforming All Access into a “super streamer” to take on competition from other media companies,
Paramount+ in 2021?
A new Financial Times profile on ViacomCBS Chairperson Shari Redstone reports that the media conglomerate has put together a shortlist for the new name of the planned “super streamer.” And according to the report, the name at the top of that list is “Paramount+.”
According to the FT, part of the motivation for rebranding CBS All Access is that ViacomCBS management “believes the CBS brand appeals mainly to an older audience.” ViacomCBS is the home of several other popular brands including MTV, BET, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, and Smithsonian. However, most of those have targeted audiences, with Paramount possibly seen as the one brand in the portfolio with the broadest appeal.
Paramount Pictures is the second oldest movie studio in the US, so its name (and famous mountain logo) carry a lot of recognition for consumers of all ages. In May the first post-merger expansion of CBS All Access was the addition of dozens of Paramount films, with over 150 now available. More are expected to be added by the time of the relaunch. ViacomCBS has also taken the upcoming Paramount feature film The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run off their theatrical release schedule, to make it an exclusive for the launch of the new streaming service in 2021.
We have already seen Viacom utilize the Paramount name for re-branding. In 2018 their SpikeTV cable network was relaunched as the Paramount Network, pivoting to take on premium free cable networks like AMC. Its first original drama Yellowstone, starring Kevin Costner, has solid ratings and is wrapping up its third season.
ViacomCBS has not confirmed where Paramount+ ranks in their rebranding shortlist, but in a statement to the FT, they did confirm a name change is in the works:
We are currently going through a thoughtful branding process that will reflect the expansion and relaunch of the service. Both existing and new original brands are under consideration.
A change in name, along with the previously announced additional content and feature upgrades, would allow ViacomCBS to reintroduce the streaming service. This newly branded streamer would most directly be taking on those from other media companies like Disney+, WarnerMedia’s HBO Max, and NBCUniversal’s Peacock.
ViacomCBS has also recently announced plans to launch an new international streaming service, and presumably, the new branding will be used globally.
Whatever the new name is, it would have some impact on the Star Trek Universe. All the current series are currently branded as “CBS All Access Originals,” and that would change to reflect the new branding. Upcoming shows like Star Trek: Strange New Worlds would be launched under this new branding regime.
Déjà vu all over again for Star Trek
Of course, the Paramount brand and its mountain logo has been associated with the Star Trek franchise since Paramount’s former corporate parent Gulf+Western acquired Desilu Studios and merged it with Paramount in 1967. All Star Trek television and future films carried the Paramount branding through the following decades, even after Viacom took over Gulf+Western in 1994.
In the 1970s, Paramount planned to launch its own broadcast TV network with a new Star Trek TV show (Star Trek: Phase II) as the flagship series. That plan eventually fizzled out, and the Trek franchise migrated to Paramount Pictures for a series of feature films starting in 1979. After Paramount released two Trek television series in syndication (Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), the United Paramount Network (UPN) was launched in 1995 with Star Trek: Voyager as its flagship show. Star Trek: Enterprise followed in 2001. After that series was canceled in 2005 and Viacom split into two companies, CBS shut down UPN and created a joint partnership with Warner Bros. to launch The CW, with no new Star Trek series.
Since the Viacom CBS split, Paramount Pictures continued to be associated with the Star Trek feature films, releasing three movies between 2009 and 2016, with another currently being mulled over. On the television side, Star Trek began being associated with the CBS brand, and eventually Star Trek: Discovery became the flagship series for CBS All Access in 2017. Since then Star Trek: Short Treks, Star Trek: Picard, and Star Trek: Lower Decks have followed, also branded as CBS All Access Originals.
In 2021, it could be that Star Trek returns to its Paramount roots.
Keep up with the Star Trek Universe on TV here at TrekMovie.com.