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ViacomCBS goes the HBO Max route, sets expansion plans for CBS All Access

Star Trek: Picard | NYCC Trailer | CBS All Access

Just when it seemed like we’d seen the last announcement of a new streaming service, ViacomCBS is reportedly circling back with plans to significantly expand — or possibly relaunch entirely — its current service, dubbed CBS All Access.

The new service will combine the existing content available on CBS All Access with Viacom’s media library, following the 2019 merger of CBS and Viacom. According to CNBC, the service is expected to include the Paramount Pictures movie library, as well as programming from premium cable network Showtime.

The report hasn’t been confirmed by ViacomCBS at this point, but if it proves true, the service appears to share a lot in common with WarnerMedia’s HBO Max, the streaming video service that will launch in May 2020. Both services bundle a mix of their respective parent companies’ network TV and movie libraries along with established premium TV programming.

The new service (which has yet to receive a name, but hopefully won’t be “CBS All Access Max” or “CBS All Access Plus”) will reportedly be available in both ad-free and premium tiers, with the latter giving subscribers access to Showtime programming.

Although the decision to launch a new streaming service might seem to be coming a little late given the lead that Disney+ and Netflix already have in the marketplace — as well as the fact that NBCUniversal’s Peacock and the aforementioned HBO Max both already have launches planned — the expansion makes sense for ViacomCBS. CBS was one of the first media companies to launch a stand-alone streaming service with CBS All Access in 2014, but last year’s merger with Viacom exponentially expanded the company’s potential library of films and TV series.

Where CBS All Access was limited to CBS’ relatively small television and film library prior to the merger, a new ViacomCBS service would have access to Nickelodeon, BET, MTV, Comedy Central, Pluto TV, and the Paramount Pictures movie vault. That’s a major expansion, and with the rebranding of the company as ViacomCBS, it makes a new service — with a new name — an increasingly likely outcome.

According to the report’s unidentified sources within ViacomCBS, the new service is expected to have a starting price of less than $10 per month. Currently, CBS All Access costs $6 monthly for the ad-supported model and $10 per month for ad-free access to its library of new and classic TV series. That includes some original programming, such as Star Trek: Discovery and the recently launched Star Trek: Picard, as well as a reboot of The Twilight Zone produced by Jordan Peele.

ViacomCBS is expected to confirm plans for the service and reveal more details during an upcoming earnings conference call on February 20.

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