‘Yellowstone’ Expanded Universe Will Be Paramount’s First Major Test in World of Streaming

by Taylor Cunningham
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Paramount+ is taking a big gamble by investing in a collection of new Yellowstone series. But if it works, the platform will be ranked among the most popular streamers around.

In 2019, Viacom and CBS networks combined to make ViacomCBS. And from the partnership, Paramount+ was born. But from the start, the company was challenged with building a name for itself. Other streamers such as HBO Max and Netflix already had an upper hand in the market. So how could Paramount+ complete?

Paramount decided that they needed a solid set of original series to build a loyal subscriber base, and they weren’t going to cut corners with cheaply produced reality series. Instead, they wanted high-quality scripted shows with big names, just like their successful competitors have. And Viacom’s president and CEO Chris McCarthy pegged Yellowstone as the series

When McCarthy began envisioning his company’s future, he considered canceling Taylor Sheridan’s Yellowstone altogether. At nearly $8 million an episode, the western-themed drama was one of CBS’s most expensive series. But instead, he opted to keep the series and ask Sheridan to create even more Paramount originals.

“We decided to take the harder path,” said McCarthy. “It would certainly be challenging, but the reward would be exceptional.”

‘Yellowstone’ Showrunner Will Create Five More Originals for Paramount +

So Viacom and Sheridan made a deal, and the creator agreed to make five more original series. Sheridan’s new list of shows will include three Yellowstone spinoffs and two separate originals. So far, the showrunner has begun work on two series for the Yellowstone universe. And the first is set to debut this month.

The show, titled 1883, is a prequel to Yellowstone. Country singers Faith Hill and Tim McGraw will star as the Duttons who built the legendary Dutton Ranch that actor Kevin Costner runs in the present day. The second Yellowstone series, 6666, will follow the origins of the legendary real-life Texas ranch by the same name.

Next month, Sheridan is dropping his crime drama Mayor of Kingstown, which stars Jeremy Renner, Dianne Wiest, and Kyle Chandler. CBS will air the first two episodes of 1883 and Mayor of Kingstown and then the series will move to Paramount+. McCarthy hopes by doing so, the shows will gain an audience that is willing to buy a subscription to the streaming service.

The strategy is risky considering the first season of 1883 cost Sheridan nearly double what he’d been paying to produce Yellowstone. But he believes his shows are up to the challenge.

“My sincere hope is that I deliver,” said Sheridan “I do feel that the model Chris is building is the future. Since I’m the test dummy for it, I hope I survive the crash, so to speak, and deliver something worthy of the gamble.”

Outsider.com