Yellowstone is television's most popular show, much to the dismay of Paramount.
Currently, Yellowstone is the most-watched series on linear cable, with its recent Season 4 finale garnering 9.3 million same-day views, almost an 81% increase from Season 3. As the popularity of the Kevin Costner-led series grows, more and more viewers are looking to tune in. In a report from Puck News, the problem with Yellowstone, however, has to do with streaming rights. New episodes of Yellowstone air on cable television's Paramount Network, but not on its streaming service, Paramount+. Instead, the streaming rights are owned by Peacock, run by NBCUniversal and owned by Comcast.
The more Yellowstone's audience grows, the more people want to stream it, which actively takes money away from ViacomCBS, aka Paramount, and bolsters a rival streaming service, Comcast's Peacock, which currently has the first three seasons available to stream. As of right now, new episodes of Yellowstone can only be watched live on Paramount Network, on ParamountNetwork.com or on the Paramount Network app, for which viewers will need a cable login. Another, and equally as inconvenient, option is to buy episodes individually on Amazon. All of this is entirely separate from the Paramount+ app, on which Yellowstone is not available at all. If fans want to watch the new Season 4, they will have to wait for episodes to appear on Peacock, 90 days after the finale aired on linear cable.
The issue with Yellowstone's streaming rights, as reported by Puck News, began before the series was in development. Yellowstone was bought from HBO by The Weinstein Company, where Costner signed on at the series lead, who is currently renegotiating his salary for the fifth season and beyond. Yellowstone, which was too expensive to broadcast, was passed on by streaming services like Netflix, TNT and FX. The show was finally purchased by Viacom's Kevin Kay and executive Keith Cox; Kay at the time was rebranding SpikeTV as the Paramount Network.
Then in 2017, multiple allegations rose against Harvey Weinstein for repeated sexual abuse. This led to Paramount taking over the series, which was sold to 101 Studio, owned by former COO of TWC, David Glasser. The first season of Yellowstone aired in 2018 on Paramount Network and when it came time to consider streaming, Paramount had no streaming service of its own.
Of course, Viacom owned Paramount Network, and CBS All Access would later become Paramount+, but the issue of Yellowstone's streaming future was happening all before the merger between Viacom and CBS, which at the time were separate companies. This was how Yellowstone was sold to Comcast's Peacock for reportedly $1.5 million an episode. As Yellowstone's popularity grows, ViacomCBS has attempted to buy the streaming rights back from Peacock, to no avail. Yellowstone simply makes Peacock too much money.
Created by Taylor Sheridan, Yellowstone aired its Season 4 finale earlier this year, and Season 5 is in the works. While the Western drama series can still only be streamed on Peacock, its spinoff shows, 1883 and 6666, will all be, or are currently, available on Paramount+.
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Source: Puck News