Why Yellowstone, Paramount’s #1 show, isn’t on Paramount Plus

Why Yellowstone, Paramount’s #1 show, isn’t on Paramount Plus

Why Yellowstone, Paramount's #1 show, isn't on Paramount Plus

Yellowstone is the biggest show on the Paramount network — and on cable TV, period. Its fifth season premiere in November drew the biggest audiences of any TV show so far this year.

Paramount More would seem the natural place to turn for anyone hoping to stream Season 5 and past seasons of the show. But, unexpectedly, the show most associated with the Paramount name can’t be found on Paramount More.

If you want to watch the new season, the Paramount Network the app or website will be your only streaming option for months. If you want to catch up on the previous season (Season 4), you can watch it with the rival streaming service Peacock or, again, via Paramount Network. And if you want to enjoy the first three seasons of Yellowstone, you’ll have to pay for Peacock, which has an exclusive deal to be the only subscription service streaming Yellowstone.

But you won’t find any Yellowstone on Paramount Plus, except spinoffs.

As confusing as it sounds, it was kind of by design. Having a hit show on a traditional cable channel like Paramount Network is big business, as is the revenue generated from licensing shows to other services. Paramount bet some time ago — before it was known how big Yellowstone would get — that some premium programs might be worth more if they were available somewhere other than Paramount Plus. In this case, that meant Paramount’s biggest show wasn’t on Paramount Plus at all. (In retrospect, this may have been a particularly bad bet.)

Paramount Plus hopes its own concoction of TV and movies will hook you into its own vision for the future of television, like its competitors. Disney+, HBO Max, Apple TV Plus, Peacock and Discovery Plus are trying to do that too. But Byzantine licensing deals like Yellowstone’s point out that even when a service like Paramount Plus sticks with its own content, it doesn’t necessarily make it easier for you to find and watch your favorite shows and movies online.

Where to stream Yellowstone Season 5 online

If you’re trying to stalk Yellowstone to stream, the main distinction to know is that Paramount More is different from Paramount Network. While Paramount Plus is a subscription streaming service, Paramount Network is a traditional cable channel available to people who pay for it through an over-the-air TV provider. Paramount Network is where the new season of Yellowstone first takes place.

The second distinction to know is that Peacock is the only subscription streaming service with episodes of Yellowstone. On Paramount Plus, you can’t stream Yellowstone — old episodes or new — at all.

Paramount Network for Season 5 (and to catch up with Season 4)

If you want to watch new episodes of the fifth season of Yellowstone, you will have to turn to the Paramount Network channel, its website at paramountnetwork.com or its Paramount Network app. The fourth season of Yellowstone is also available through the Paramount Network app, but it lacks seasons 1-3.

Important note about the schedule: Yellowstone is televised on the Paramount Network on Sundays at 8 p.m. ET/PT and 7 p.m. CT, but streaming availability does not begin on the site and app until the following day. That means Sunday shows become available to stream on Mondays — you can’t stream them the same night they’re on TV.

Fortunately, Paramount Network is making it easy to stream the first episode of the new season: it’s available to stream outside of the paywall on the network’s website and Paramount Network app, so anyone in the United States can watch it. watch on paramountnetwork.com or in the app. . Even if you don’t pay for a traditional TV service with Paramount Network, you can still watch the first episode of the season. You cannot, however, watch the second episode of the season, which also aired on Sunday, without overriding the paywall.

To stream the second episode or any new upcoming episodes, you will need to be an “authenticated” viewer, i.e. someone who can log in with the live TV service credentials to prove that you already pay for Paramount Network. . Most often this means having cable, satellite or a live channel streaming service like YouTube TV or Philo. (Philo is one of the cheapest online options for accessing Paramount Network; it also offers a one-week free trial.)

Peacock for seasons 1-4

The first four seasons of Yellowstone are available to stream on Peacock, a streaming service operated by NBCUniversal. Each episode of Yellowstone is paid: you must be on one of its paid subscription tiers which usually costs $5 per month with ads or $10 per month without ads. (Some people who have Comcast, Cox or Spectrum may get an agreement on the premium levels of Peacock.)

Paramount Plus for… spinoffs

So if Paramount Plus doesn’t have Yellowstone, what does? To make up for not having Yellowstone itself, Paramount Plus has launched a ton of spinoffs, prequels, and wittily similar programs by its creator, Taylor Sheridan, that are exclusive to its service.

The first was a prequel to Yellowstone titled 1883, which focuses on the Dutton family over a century earlier when the Yellowstone Ranch was established. Another prequel series, 1923, will feature stories about members of the Dutton family who are children during the events of 1883; it is set to star Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren and is expected to arrive in December. And Paramount has commissioned a whole stable of shows related to Yellowstone or produced by Sheridan.

Why Yellowstone isn’t streaming the only place you’d expect

Each new streaming service launched in Hollywood makes its own judgment about how much programming to keep to itself. Yellowstone’s absence from Paramount Plus is a puzzling oddity stemming from a licensing deal the company struck with NBCUniversal’s Peacock in 2020, more than a year before Paramount Plus launched.

As Yellowstone has grown in popularity over the past two years, Paramount’s decision to license it (to what is now a direct competitor to streaming) has come across as a strategic black eye. And for fans, it created a frustrating maze of where to stream Yellowstone and associated programming.

Some streaming services have been aggressive in picking up titles on their own services.

Disney has been firm in letting its agreements expire for anything it previously licensed to other services. This included a major deal that allowed Netflix to stream Disney’s theatrical movies for around $200-300 million per year over four years. But Disney Plus wanted to become a reliable hub for its own catalog, so Disney let that Netflix deal run out and stopped buying those blockbusters from rival services.

NBCUniversal, in addition to licensing Yellowstone for its Peacock service, secured the rights to its own show The Office from Netflix in early 2021 so Peacock could stream the sitcom exclusively.

And WarnerMedia’s HBO Max has repeatedly picked up the rights to all eight Harry Potter films from NBCUniversal and Peacock. Warner Bros. WarnerMedia licensed all of these movies to NBCUniversal years ago in an epic deal. This brought NBCUniversal’s Peacock online to stream them rather than HBO Max. But WarnerMedia has picked them up on several occasions, aiming to boost HBO Max with a popular franchise.

Paramount Plus, however, has been more willing to license its best titles elsewhere.

Part of the reason is that licensing can be a lucrative business. Paramount made $6.5 billion in licensing revenue last year, nearly a quarter of the company’s total and billions more than the company generated from streaming. That money comes from an array of licensing, from TV syndication to Paw Patrol plushies and costumes. But part of licensing is also outsourcing titles like Yellowstone and others to Paramount Plus’ direct rivals. When you license your own programming to your own service exclusively, you’re giving up any money you could have gotten back if you licensed it to someone else.

And Paramount has a big catalog to draw from: around 140,000 TV episodes and 4,000 movies. The company said it doesn’t want all of that on Paramount Plus. “We can’t keep this all to ourselves. It just doesn’t make sense,” CEO Bob Bakish said as Paramount Plus prepared for launch. “It’s too much.”

Bakish has repeatedly indicated that the company’s strategy is “evolving” in terms of how much of its own programming it should license and how much it should keep for itself. The company’s licensing strategy has “evolved to become much more focused” on having its own franchises on its own streaming service, it said last year. But the “legacy deals” the company made before Paramount Plus launched may have a long tail, he added. And in February, Bakish said he was “unfortunate” to enter into a Yellowstone licensing deal with Peacock amid the close of a major merger.

However, beyond the money Paramount makes from licensing, Paramount Plus also believed it might be able to attract more new members if it let other, bigger services carry some of its titles. Bakish noted that other platforms can expand an older show’s audience so that its reboots and spinoffs have a bigger fanbase for Paramount Plus.

It’s a kind of perverse logic. But Netflix has more than 22 million members worldwide, compared to Paramount Plus’ 46 million. Interest in Avatar: The Last Airbender spiked in 2020 when the show arrived on Netflix, which certainly helped drive Paramount’s decision in 2021 to launch a full series. new studio dedicated to fresh Avatar– related programming.

Unfortunately, Paramount doesn’t gain much reach for Yellowstone by having it on Peacock. Peacock is even smaller than Paramount Plus: only about 15 million subscribers are on the paid tiers of Peacock that unlock Yellowstone, less than a third the size of Paramount Plus’s membership base.

More recently, Paramount has started bringing together some of its major franchises with its own streaming service. South Park is slowly unraveling from HBO Max to make its way to Paramount Plus, the company announced in February. In 2024, new episodes of South Park will have their streaming premieres on Paramount Plus rather than HBO Max. Then in 2025, Paramount Plus will receive the complete South Park back catalog in the United States.

But so far, Paramount has been silent on reclaiming the rights to Yellowstone.

This means that for fans new to one of the Yellowstone prequels on Paramount Plus, as they watch the chronicles of the first Dutton family, Paramount Plus subscribers need to go elsewhere to delve into who even the modern Duttons are.


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