Paramount Global does not have a primetime NFL mechanism to navigate through the SAG-AFTRA strike, but it does have Taylor Sheridan, the video industry's most prolific producer. Sheridan recently premiered the first two episodes of his latest prequel spinoff to the successful series Yellowstone, titled Lawmen: Bass Reeves, on Paramount Plus. The premiere garnered solid audience numbers, indicating a positive response (more details below).
In an attempt to capitalize on the success, Paramount plans to air the first two episodes back to back on CBS this Sunday (Nov. 12) at 9 p.m. This will be preceded by the presentation of Episode 4 of Yellowstone Season 2 at 8 p.m., which originally aired on the Paramount Network in July 2019 (full CBS schedule can be found here). Yellowstone has proven to be a significant success for CBS, generating the largest non-live-football viewership on broadcast TV this fall season.
Paramount shares that 52% of the CBS audience for Yellowstone had not seen the show before its airing on the network. This unexpected victory on CBS should mollify Paramount, which made the regrettable decision of not exclusively streaming Yellowstone, instead licensing the rights to NBCUniversal and Peacock. However, Paramount has taken a different approach with its Yellowstone spinoffs and Sheridan's other shows, all of which are part of the Paramount Plus streaming platform. The expanding list of Yellowstone prequel/origin-story spinoffs now includes 1883, a limited one-season Western historical drama series released in 2021.
The show stars Sam Elliot, Tim McGraw, and Faith Hill, and follows the original migration of Yellowstone's Dutton Family from Tennessee to Montana. It serves as a precursor to Lawmen: Bass Reeves. Lawmen is an anthology series that will feature future iterations following other iconic lawmen and outlaws who have left their mark in history. The current iteration stars David Oyelowo as the first Black U.S. Deputy Marshal, Bass Reeves, who was a former slave.
Oyelowo, along with executive producers Taylor Sheridan and David Glasser, heads 101 Studios, and the cast also includes Donald Sutherland, Dennis Quaid, and Barry Pepper. Chad Feehan, known for his work on Ann Biderman-led shows Southland and Ray Donovan, serves as the creator and showrunner for Lawmen. Audience numbers for Bass Reeves have not been released by Paramount Plus, but Samba TV reported that 284,000 U.S. households tuned in for all or part of the first two episodes on the premiere Sunday. This is slightly higher compared to the 280,000 households last year that watched Tulsa King, another Taylor Sheridan production starring Sylvester Stallone.