You may find yourself in unfamiliar territory while flipping through your cable channels this week, as the Paramount Network makes its debut. Born from the ashes of Spike TV, Paramount Network is a rare launch of a cable network in the gold rush days of streaming services. We know you have questions about Paramount Network, so we're here — along with Paramount Network president Kevin Kay — to answer them.
When does Paramount Network launch?
On January 18, Paramount will make its debut at 9am ET/PT.
How many homes will Paramount Network be in?
Every home that already has Spike, about 85 millions homes — according to Paramount Network president Kevin Kay — will automatically get Paramount Network. Barring any technical glitches, just flip over to where Spike used to be, and it will be Paramount. And the Spike app will become the Paramount app automatically.
Will there be a streaming component?
I know it sounds crazy, but no. At least not yet. "Our major goal right now is to get the linear network launched and think about all the different places to get the content out and ways to market the content to make sure we bring the Spike audience over and expand that audience and make it broader," Kay says. "I think ultimately, sure, we'd like to figure out a streaming strategy, but our priority right now is to launch a linear network."
However, if you want to catch Paramount's shows online, you can watch them after they air on TV on the Paramount app or on ParamountNetwork.com.
What shows will carry over from Spike to Paramount Network?
Many of Spike's non-scripted programs — like Lip Synch Battle, Ink Master and Bar Rescue — will stay put on Paramount Network. Lip Synch Battle is actually launch day's biggest event with a special live episode airing Thursday night. But Spike's lone scripted series, The Shannara Chronicles, will not roll over, as Paramount passed on a third season of the fantasy drama.
What original programming does Paramount have lined up?
Paramount currently has four original series that will air by this summer. They are:
Waco, Jan. 24 - Taylor Kitsch (Friday Night Lights) stars in this six-part miniseries as David Koresh, the leader of the religious movement known as the Branch Davidians who participated in the notorious 1993 51-day standoff with the FBI and ATF that resulted in the deaths of more than 80 people.
Heathers, Mar. 7 - A redo of the cult classic film, the new version of the dark comedy follows Veronica Sawyer as she battles a whole new group of Heathers who run the high school. Only these Heathers are much different from the original (but no less nasty!). If the series makes it to a second season, it would continue with an all-new setting and all-new Heathers.
American Woman, June 7 - Alicia Silverstone stars in this 1970s-set half-hour — Paramount's sole 30-minute original so far — that's loosely based on the childhood of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Kyle Richards. Silverstone plays a mom (based on Richards' mother) raising two teenage girls on her own with the help of her best friends played by Mena Suvari and Jennifer Bartels.
Yellowstone, June 20 - Taylor Sheridan (Wind River) created this epic about a ranching family clinging to their land as outside forces, including the government and Native Americans, attempt to chip away at it. Kevin Costner stars.
That's a diverse lineup, but it doesn't tell me what I can expect from Paramount. What kind of network does Paramount want to be?
Kay says the name Paramount is synonymous with great storytelling and cinematic production, and that's going to stick with the network. It's been referred to in the press as a "general interest" network, meaning it's not pigeonholing itself into any one demographic, but it would certainly like to expand Spike's audience — which was geared toward young men — to include more females. Paramount's main objective is to bring big, quality dramas with famous faces attached, and Kay looks at what FX has done with acclaimed originals as inspiration.
So what will Paramount look like in 1-2 years? How about 5-10 years?
That's going to take some time to figure out. "Six to eight [scripted series] over the first two years would be a great place to be, and that gives us the opportunity to choose carefully, to choose wisely, but also to give the audience some variety," Kay says. He says the initial offerings mentioned above, as well as the non-scripted fare brought over from Spike, all have appeal to different audiences but they're also broad enough to work for everyone. "We're trying to cast the net really wide, that's the strategy," Kay tells TV Guide. "And we'll refine that, once we get past year two and we see what has worked and resonated with the audience and why they're coming to us, then we can chart out the path for a longer term plan."
Kay says that's nothing new, and points out that Comedy Central was shaped by the success of South Park and FX got its identity from The Shield, which set the tones for the networks. "They did a lot of stuff before The Shield, but it was The Shield that said to them, 'OK, we're going to go down this dark drama path.'"
Will Paramount-owned franchises be part of the original series plan moving forward?
Yes, but not in all cases. Kay says Paramount is already working on a First Wives Club series, and there have been conversations about other iconic Paramount films making the jump to television. But they're not going to do it unless it makes sense. Could they spin-off a Transformers or Mission: Impossible character for TV? It's a possibility. However, there's one you definitely won't see move to the small screen. "The one thing I can guarantee you we won't do is The Godfather for TV," Kay says. "I'm not going to be the guy that ruins The Godfather."
Check your local listings to find out where Paramount is on your dial, or just go to the channel Spike was on to find it.