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Why Paramount is Moving ‘Yellowstone’ Spinoff ‘6666’ from Streaming to Cable

Matt Tamanini

There is no end in sight for the expansive reach of the Sheridanverse. As part of Paramount’s Upfront presentation on Wednesday, the studio announced that it is shifting “6666,” the upcoming modern-day spinoff of “Yellowstone,” from streaming service Paramount+ to cable’s Paramount Network.

Earlier this year, the series was announced as one of a handful of shows that creator Taylor Sheridan was bringing to Paramount+, including the second “Yellowstone” prequel “1932” — which we learned this week will star Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren — mob show “The Tulsa King” starring Sylvester Stallone, “The Land Man,” “Lioness” produced alongside Nicole Kidman,” and “Bass Reeves” starring David Oyelowo.

However, moving a presumably buzzworthy show from streaming to cable, could perhaps show signs of Paramount’s multi-pronged approach to content distribution. It has been well documented that before Paramount Global (then ViacomCBS) decided to launch a direct-to-consumer platform, the company sold the “Yellowstone” streaming rights to Peacock, despite the fact that the show airs on the Paramount Network.

Little did the studio know that “Yellowstone” would go on to be the most popular scripted show on cable and would spawn a carefully integrated universe of series. The fact that a competing streamer has the rights to one of Paramount’s most successful properties has been a thorn in the side of CEO Bob Bakish ever since.

While the studio has tried to buy back the rights, Peacock appears to have no intention of giving them up anytime soon. So instead, it seems that Bakish is looking to fortify the Paramount Network to Paramount+ pipeline in the minds of consumers by moving “6666” to cable before it inevitably streams.

The series is set on a historic, centuries-old Texas ranch and, according to press notes, “The 6666 is synonymous with the merciless endeavor to raise the finest horses and livestock in the world, and ultimately where world-class cowboys are born and made.”

Bakish has long touted Paramount’s unique position to have a fully integrated approach to programming given their expansive movie studio operation, seven cable networks, and the most-watched channel on broadcast, CBS. By moving a show by the most popular creator in the company from streaming to cable, the CEO appears to be attempting to sure up the network’s revenue stream; another reason to believe that to be true is that it was announced in front of a group of advertisers during Upfront presentations.


June 20, 2018

Follow the violent world of the Dutton family, who controls the largest contiguous ranch in the United States. Led by their patriarch John Dutton, the family defends their property against constant attack by land developers, an Indian reservation, and America’s first National Park.

“Yellowstone” is the only returning original series on the Paramount Network in the upcoming season, but in addition to “6666,” the channel is adding three more shows that seem to align with a very specific, middle-America setting and sensibility. By putting together a consistent slate of programming that has already proven successful on the channel, Paramount seems to be aiming to establish the Paramount Network as more than just the home of “Yellowstone.”

Besides “6666,” the cabler will add three more original, scripted series this season: “American Tragedy: The Waco Trials” explores the aftermath of the FBI’s raid of the Branch Davidian compound; “Black Wall Street” looks at Oklahoma’s Greenwood district, which at one time was the wealthiest Black community in the country; and “George & Tammy” chronicles the rocky relationship of country music icons George Jones and Tammy Wynette.

If “6666” — or any of the other new shows coming to Paramount Network — prove to be anything even approaching the hit that “Yellowstone” is, not only will that bode well for the channel with advertisers, but it will also reinforce the importance of Paramount+.

While “Yellowstone’s” migration from the Paramount Network to Peacock has been confusing to consumers, having cable hits that feed directly from a Paramount cable channel to the company’s in-house streamer should make Paramount+ an even more important addition to customers’ streaming bundles.

So, as with most decisions in the entertainment industry, the move of “6666” from streaming to cable likely has little — if anything — to do with the show itself; instead it is almost certainly about what the visibility of another potential Taylor Sheridan hit can do for the Paramount Network and Paramount+ brands.

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