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Paramount Unveils Animated Ambitions: South Park, SpongeBob. TMNT and More

Investor days were traditionally events where major media companies shared their news with shareholders. Typically they revealed their recent figures (such as profits, subscriber or viewer numbers) and spoke of their future plans, in an effort to assure their ongoing investment, More recently, they have become more all-singing and dancing altogether glitzier affairs where they tease their upcoming slate, with both investors and the public. This week saw the Investors day for ViacomCBS, who announced that they were rebranding the whole company as Paramount Global, naming it after the historic studio Paramount Pictures, the most recognisable part of their portfolio. This change reflects the company's renewed focus on the streaming platform Paramount+ and their ambitions to take the service worldwide.

Animation will be a major part of their plans, as Paramount owns brands such as Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and MTV, all of which have considerable libraries of animated content. 

SpongeBob SquarePants is apparently Paramount+'s most streamed series, and it was announced that three new TV movies would be coming exclusively to the service, starting in 2023. It was also announced that a fourth theatrical SpongeBob movie was also in development at Nickelodeon animation. Iconic Nick Jr series Dora The Explorer is also due to get two new iterations: a CG animated series and a live-action series inspired by the Dora And The Lost City Of Gold movie, aimed at a (slightly) older tween audience.

Paramount also announced that a third instalment in the Sonic The Hedgehog "live-action"/hybrid movie series has been greenlit (before the second has even opened) and that it will be joined by a TV series spin-off starring the Idris Elba voiced character Knuckles. They also announced that the new upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated movie from Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg will be the start of a new era for the franchise and will be followed by a series of exclusive Parmount+ movies centring on the villains. The first will air in 2023. The Transformers movie series will also be expanding with the upcoming Transformers: Rise of the Beasts set to kick off a trilogy of films based on the Beast Wars characters. The animated Transformers movie (currently untitled) from Toy Story 4 director Josh Cooley is set to open in 2024. A new animated series for Nickelodeon and Paramount+ Transformers: Earthspark will explore a new species of Transformer.

Parmount+ is also set to become the home for South Park globally, with the site set to have exclusive SVOD (subscription video on demand) rights internationally starting in 2024. Previous seasons will begin to arrive on the service in some countries later this year. However, HBO Max secured streaming rights to the series in the US by winning a bidding war a few years back, so the full back catalogue won't be available in the United States until that deal expires, starting in 2025. As previously revealed, Paramount+ will also be home to the 14 original movies that make up part of the gigantic $900 million deal Trey Parker and Matt Stone signed with Viacom last year.

Also in adult animation, Beavis and Butthead's sequel series will be coming to Paramount+ alongside the full library of existing episodes remastered (200+ episodes) and a newly revealed movie Beavis and Butthead Do The Universe.

Paramount Global seems to be going all-in on their streaming service, which currently is quite some way behind its rivals. In the US market, Paramount+ and NBCUniversal's Peacock, both relative latecomers to the game are in competition for last place among the majors, behind Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus and HBO Max.