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Paramount Network to shift focus toward movies, miniseries

As part of its shift in content strategy, the network will change its branding.

As part of its shift in content strategy, the network will change its branding.

(Logo: ViacomCBS/Graphic: The Desk)

Since it launched in the mid-1980s, the Paramount Network has gone through several name changes — and it’s about to get another one.

The cable channel that started as The Nashville Network — only to be renamed TNN, Spike and most-recently the Paramount Network — will rebrand as the Paramount Movie Network as part of an overall shift in content strategy, according to a report published by trade publication Variety on Tuesday.

As part of the move, ViacomCBS will cancel several underperforming reality shows, including “Ink Master,” “Battle of the Fittest Couples’ and “Wife Swap.” Hit reality shows like “Bar Rescue” and “Lip Sync Battle” will be shuffled to other ViacomCBS-owned networks.

The reformatted strategy will see ViacomCBS bet big on original programming like “Yellowstone” coupled with re-runs of movies sourced primarily from Paramount’s film library.

It’s unclear what will happen with some syndicated programs aired on Paramount Network, though in all likelihood the shows will be dropped instead of moved to another ViacomCBS-owned channel.

“We are creative builders — not buyers — and always have been,” Chris McCarthy, a ViacomCBS executive who oversees brand management for the media company’s entertainment and youth-oriented channels, said in an interview with Variety. “As our group’s portfolio has expanded, if we don’t own something, we’re transitioning out of it because it doesn’t provide long-term value for the company.”

That same strategy has been adopted at other media companies in recent years, though it’s typically applied to startup streaming services like Disney Plus, HBO Max and Peacock. Even then, companies have licensed a small handful of third-party content from producers like ViacomCBS to beef up their TV show and film offerings.

ViacomCBS has indicated it will adopt the same strategy next year when it relaunches its CBS All Access streaming service as Paramount Plus, which will incorporate content from ViacomCBS’ broadcast, cable TV and premium network properties into one blockbuster product. Compared to its rivals, CBS All Access and the future Paramount Network will contain very little third-party content that isn’t owned or distributed by ViacomCBS.

The same will be true of the new Paramount Movie Network, which is expected to continue promoting original, exclusive content above all else. The show’s breakout series “Yellowstone” will continue on the channel, Variety reported, and the network will soon play host to a  handful of other originals commissioned by ViacomCBS, including “Paradise Lost” and “Mayor of Kingstown.”

The channel will also feature a return of the made-for-TV movie genre that proved popular on network television from the 1970s to the late 1990s.

“Made-for-TV movies provide all the creative upside and ability to work with great talent, without the full time commitment of a series or feature,” McCarthy told Variety, adding that once movies air on Paramount Movie Network, they can be repurposed on other ViacomCBS-owned cable networks and streaming services like the forthcoming Paramount Plus.

Variety said the name change and shift in content strategy will happen sometime in 2021.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).