Why ViacomCBS Rebranded CBS All Access as Paramount+ and Not Paramount All Access

The moniker will help internationally, despite undoing 6 years of brand equity

Paramount+ leverages the Paramount brand, which has appeared onscreen for more than 100 years. Paramount/ViacomCBS
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Hayes Roth remembers the first time Paramount Pictures’ logo really stuck with him. It was his first time watching Steven Spielberg’s 1981 film Raiders of the Lost Ark, when the snow-capped mountain from the film studio’s logo fades into a similar peak just before Indiana Jones begins his latest adventure.

“That scene embedded the brand in an interesting way with me,” said Roth, the founder of brand consultancy HA Roth Consulting. “There’s something exciting about when you see that logo, because you know you are about to be thrust into a new world.”

That’s good news for ViacomCBS, which, after rebranding cable channel Spike as Paramount Network two years ago, is once again using the Paramount moniker for another major outlet. This time, it will be for its subscription video streaming service, currently named CBS All Access.

On Tuesday, ViacomCBS said CBS All Access will rebrand as Paramount+ early next year, just as the platform expands into international markets like Australia and the Nordic countries.

There was mixed reaction to the name change online, with some welcoming the Paramount rebranding and others wondering why the company would scrap six years of CBS All Access brand equity to become yet another streaming service with a plus sign in its title. But in an ultracompetitive streaming space where global growth is proving crucial to streamers’ long-term growth, branding experts and ViacomCBS execs alike say Paramount+ may serve to give ViacomCBS a leg up in international markets.

“Paramount is the most well-known brand we have globally, and it sits up there at the top of big entertainment brands,” said Marc DeBevoise, chief digital officer of ViacomCBS and CEO and president of CBS Interactive. “Movies have been going around with that curtain-raiser brand on them for 100 years. There’s so much equity in that brand, that name and that logo.”

The 2019 Viacom-CBS merger all but ensured the CBS All Access name, a somewhat literal moniker spelling out to consumers exactly what they were getting with a subscription, would become less precise as the service was quickly injected with programming from Viacom brands like Comedy Central and MTV. There was some consideration to keeping the original name, but CBS as an entertainment brand isn’t as recognizable as Paramount is in other territories.

“Even in Australia when we launched All Access there, they refer to it as the network we own there: 10 All Access,” DeBevoise said.

While Paramount has a century of history with audiences around the world, it is also something of an open book, giving the company some room to define and clarify the type of entertainment product for which Paramount stands. Roth said the name came with good connotations but remained “open-ended,” and would leave room for a more precise definition through marketing materials.

“It’s a brand name everybody knows, whether they know what is inside it or not,” Roth said. “With Paramount, I have no fixed idea of what their brand DNA is, because I don’t really know the difference between Paramount films versus Universal films in terms of preconceived notion. What I do know is it’s about film, and it’s about exciting products.”

ViacomCBS’ own research bears that out. “[Paramount] is not necessarily specifically defined other than that it means big entertainment to those audiences,” DeBevoise said. “The big transition that we need to make is that it doesn’t stand for news or sports right now.”

@kelseymsutton kelsey.sutton@adweek.com Kelsey Sutton is the streaming editor at Adweek, where she covers the business of streaming television.