Mar 23, 2020

By Nicole Bitette
‘Sonic The Hedgehog’ goes on-demand early and ‘The Daily Social Distancing Show with Trevor Noah’ moves from digital to linear.

The coronavirus has caused a radical shift in how—and how much—content is consumed around the globe. With millions of people forgoing typical social activities, there’s been an increased demand for options that can offer on-demand information and entertainment. Behind the camera, news crews are working amid unprecedented conditions to deliver constant updates, and late night shows known for slick in-studio productions are now finding creative ways to give fans daily boosts.

With this in mind, ViacomCBS brands have taken new approaches to support their fans during the global pandemic. The Daily Show With Trevor Noah has been doing segments from the host’s couch while Stephen Colbert delivered his monologue from the bathtub. Amidst the shuttering of movie theaters, Paramount Pictures announced that it will digitally release Sonic The Hedgehog on March 31, just 45 days since its theater launch.

ViacomCBS also partnered with the Ad Council and the U.S. government on the #AloneTogether PSA campaign that encourages social distancing via linear television spots and via paid social media.  Talent from across the brand portfolio, including Trevor Noah and David Spade, as well as accounts from shows like Siesta Key and Lip Sync Battle, participated in the campaign.

Here’s a look at how the brands at ViacomCBS are finding creative ways to keep audiences entertained and informed: 

Awesomeness

Awesomeness is coming up with creative ways for their audience to interact during this time of social distancing. There was a livestream marathon of Twin My Heart Season 1 on YouTube so that fans could binge watch together and get excited about the Season 2 finale episode that debuted March 26. Ahead of the Season 5 premiere of Niki and Gabi Take Bahamas on April 18, the brand hosted a livestream binge marathon of Niki and Gabi Take Miami episodes on the platform, with Gabi DeMartino engaging with fans in the comments section.

Plus, as part of the #AloneTogether campaign, the brand tapped their extensive creator network to highlight user-generated content and populate new verticals across their YouTube channels with videos about self-care and adapting to “the new normal.” There’s also posts across all of Awesomeness’ social channels that encourage social distancing, offer comedic relief, and lean into viral challenges.

Bellator

Bellator fighter Cris Cyborg is offering daily quarantine workouts on YouTube as gyms and studios around the world are closed in order to lessen the spread of COVID-19. The daily workouts—which launched in partnership with the ViacomCBS #AloneTogether campaign—will be live on Cyborg’s channel beginning at  10 a.m. PST every Monday through Friday and they will be saved for users to watch at any time.

BET

Regina Hall, Anthony Anderson, Terrance Howard, and Kelly Rowland are just a few of the many celebrities who will be a part of the BET Saving Our Selves special, which will help raise funds for those in need of assistance in the wake of COVID-19. BET partnered with the United Way Worldwide and the NAACP on the relief fund. The special aired around the world on BET networks on April 22.

To inspire, entertain, inform, and empower the Black community, BET kicked off an Instagram Live series called #BETHouseParty on March 29. The series features musical performances, DJ sets, master classes, lifestyle hacks, and more. Sunday's IG Live featured Grammy-award winner, Kirk Franklin, DeVon Franklin, and award-winning gospel singer Erica Campbell.

On March 30, #BETHouseParty featured a ‘Real Talk' conversation with legendary stylist June Ambrose and celebrity hairstylist Kim Kimble, who shared some tips and lessons they learned during their careers.

BET also partnered with author Rashad Robinson, president of color of change, on an editorial series where Robinson will help equip the Black community with an action plan each week to make a difference in Black communities. The first article focused on the 2020 Census and why it's important for Black people.

CBS All Access

On March 23, CBS All Access announced it would offer 30-day free trials to new customers, just ahead of the finale of Star Trek: Picard.

The streamer enlisted the help of Jean-Luc Picard himself, Sir Patrick Stewart, to deliver the news.

"That is the heart of Star Trek, how to become more human," Stewart says in the clip.  The month-long trial is redeemable until April 23 by using the code "GIFT" when signing up.

CBS News

The CBS News division has continued to deliver round-the-clock coverage on-air and online despite several staffers testing positive for the virus. In the last weeks, a smaller than normal staff has produced CBS Sunday Morning and 60 Minutes. Affiliates from Boston and San Francisco are helping CBSN, the streaming network, with additional space and resources. CBS News Radio moved its technical base from New York to Washington. And, the local CBS news channel in New York has led with anchors from Los Angeles and San Francisco.

CBS This Morning moved its studio location several times last week, relocating temporarily to the the DC studio of CBS Evening News with Norah O'Donnell since its normal West 57th Street studio had to close. Last Thursday it broadcast from the Ed Sullivan theater, the usual home of The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. “I couldn’t even promise [the anchors] teleprompters at first,” producer Diana Miller told Variety. “They’re so flexible. It’s so clear that they want to be on the air. They’re incredibly resilient, positive and curious. They are the face of the operation and they are good at keeping us all calm.”

CBS Television Studios

The Late Show With Stephen Colbert stopped filming with a live audience on March 12 and in the days following, the show shut down in-studio production, but ramped up production remotely.

The Late Show recorded new monologues March 16-18 from Colbert’s home, which were edited into scheduled repeats of The Late Show. They aired on online and on CBS. Of note were the locations he chose: on March 16, Colbert delivered his monologue from his bathtub; on the 17th, he sat beside a fire in his backyard; and on Wednesday, March 18, he greeted viewers from his front porch.

 

The Late Late Show With James Corden aired a primetime special on March 30 at 10 p.m. EST on CBS in the wake of COVID-19.

Corden hosted the show, titled Homefest: James Corden's Late Late Show Special from his garage, featuring special guests via webcam, like Will Ferrell and David Blaine. There will also be special music performances from BTS, Billie Eilish with Finneas, Dua Lipa, Andrea Bocelli, John Legend, and more.

On April 7, CBS announced that it would air classic Paramount Pictures films on Sunday nights in May. Some of the famous pictures include, Titanic, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Forrest Gump, and more.

CBS Sports

To give basketball fans their March Madness fix, CBS Sports is airing entire classic March Madness games over the next few weeks.

CMT

CMT is running multiple themed marathons on its linear network to keep audiences entertained while they’re at home. On March 29, there was a Sidelined Sundays: Sports movie marathon of The Sandlot and The Replacements

The Stay In and Stay Golden: Golden Girls marathon airs Thursdays from 8 p.m. to 12:30 a.m EST. And, on Sunday, April 5, viewers can tune into the Sunday with Your Boo! to watch BeetlejuiceGhostbustersand Ghostbusters 2 back-to-back, beginning at 12 p.m. EST. Audiences can also expect an Indiana Jones movie marathon on April 11 and 12, back-to-back wedding features (Sweet Home Alabama, 27 Dresses, and My Best Friend's Wedding) on April  19 from 12 p.m. to 3 a.m. EST, and Grumpy Old Men franchise film reruns on April 25 from 12 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. EST.

Comedy Central

Since The Daily Show stopped filming last week, host Trevor Noah has been filming digital segments and monologues from his couch and guests have appeared via video chat. The digital version of the late night talk show, labeled The Daily Social Distancing Show with Trevor Noah, which began streaming via online and social channels on March 18 began airing on linear beginning Monday, March 23. The online episodes were an immediate hit—earning recognition for the production value and amassing more than 3 million viewers on YouTube within the first day of release.

Noah’s also created educational messages related to the coronavirus for the ViacomCBS’ #AloneTogether PSA campaign, as well as for the Mayor’s Office of NYC. On The Daily Show YouTube page, viewers can donate to No Kid Hungry via a simple button. The show’s fundraising feature has already helped raise more than $140,000 toward the organization.

David Spade, who hosts the late night show Lights Out With David Spade, for the network has been recording jokes and monologues from his Los Angeles home, which he's nicknamed "the bunker." Spade is recording the videos himself and then passing them along to Comedy Central to post on YouTube and Twitter, but he's uploaded the videos to Instagram on his own.

MTV

To encourage music lovers to practice self-quarantine, MTV brought back a few of its classic music shows. The first installment featured an at-home unplugged performance from Wyclef Jean. The series is available to stream on YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram. Additional artists will be announced soon.  The brand is also announced the return of Club MTV with a special one-night musical event, hosted by DJ Derrick “D-Nice" from his home in Los Angeles.

The network also aired re-runs of Jersey Shore: Family Vacation on Thursday, March 26 from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. EST, followed by a brand new episode.  MTV also aired a Twilight franchise marathon on Friday, April 3.

Nickelodeon

Nickelodeon launched its summer schedule a few months early. The scheduled programming is designed for school-age children. The network is also airing two new animated shows on a daily basis: The Casagrandes, a spin-off of its popular show The Loud House, and It’s Pony, a British cartoon. Audiences have also been able to watch marathons of shows like SpongeBob SquarePants, PAW Patrol, and Henry Danger.

To help inform parents and children about the pandemic, the network has launched a special website called NickHelps.com, which features informational short-form content about COVID-19 for children and downloadable activities. Children can receive hand washing tips from the Bubble Guppies or learn about social distancing from SpongeBob.

The Nick Jr. preschool streaming service, Noggin, also launched on Apple TV in 25 territories, including the U.S., the UK, Germany, and France. Throughout the month of April, new customers receive a two-month free trial on the Apple Tv app.

 

Paramount Pictures

Paramount Pictures announced on March 20 that the family-friendly flick Sonic The Hedgehog, based on the Sega video game character, would be available on-demand on March 31.

As well, the studio’s film The Love Birds will be released to Netflix since its theatrical and SXSW premieres had to be cancelled.

Pluto TV

In addition to joining ViacomCBS’ #AloneTogether campaign, Pluto TV is seeding a rotating selection of 20-plus news channels on its homepage so that users can immerse themselves in the headlines as soon as they turn the service on.

Pluto TV is also sending push notifications synced with breaking news on its CBSN channel. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, Pluto TV primarily used push notifications as a marketing and promotional tool, but the hunger for information in the current moment helped them understand its potential as a safety information system.

“We're always coordinating with CBSN when news is coming in, and when press conferences are happening. We're trying to keep our audience as up to date in real-time as possible,” said Pluto TV Senior Vice President of Programming Scott Reich. “Keeping them informed is the number one priority.”

Pop TV

Pop TV is airing episodes of House as a marathon on Thursdays from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. EST, Fridays from 10 a.m. - 8 p.m. EST, and Saturdays from 6 a.m. - 1 p.m EST.

SHOWTIME

On March 20, SHOWTIME announced it will offer a free 30-day trial to new customers. Users who sign up before May 3 will have access to the premium network’s hits like Billions, Shameless, The Chi, and Ray Donovan.

Cast members from the brand's new drama series Penny Dreadful: City of Angels participated in the Cinco de Mayo Altísimo Live Festival Fundraiser on May 5 to raise money for the Farmworkers COVID-19 Pandemic Relief Fund. The fund is dedicated to supporting farmworkers and their families, similar to the Vega family depicted in the series, as they continue to work to feed our nation during the current COVID-19 pandemic. SHOWTIME has also donated to the fund in honor of the series.

Late night talk show hosts Desus Nice and The Kid Mero of DESUS & MERO are urging fans to donate to Uplift NYC and World Central Kitchen to help combat the effects of COVID-19. The co-hosts are fundraising for the two organizations on social and during their show.  Videos posted to the series' official YouTube channel will feature links to donate directly. SHOWTIME will also be making donations to each charity.

Simon & Schuster

As many schools have announced weeks-long closures, Simon & Schuster issued a temporary policy whereby teachers and booksellers can read its children’s books aloud to classes and customers over streaming platforms.

The publisher has also given authors information about making the most of their social media accounts during coronavirus and pledged to double its annual contribution to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation, which helps booksellers in need.

Smithsonian Channel

In light of global travel bans, Smithsonian Channel is helping viewers all 50 states without leaving home by streaming Aerial America on Smithsonian Channel AVOD and YouTube.

To give people a breather from their new day-to-day, the network is also offering bi-weekly yoga class from Julie Montagu on Facebook Live at 2 p.m. EST on Mondays and Fridays. The brand also has a #CutenessBreak Twitter thread featuring its vast library of cute animal content on one mega-thread, as well as new weekly #MondayMotivation Twitter campaign, in which fans can get a personalized, hand-drawn illustration of a motivation or mantra to add to their vision board.

As part of the #AloneTogether campaign, the network is also participating in Facebook Watch parties every Tuesday and Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. EST, featuring a back-to-back watch party of two Aerial America episodes together that engage fans with state-by-state trivia.

TV Land

It's important to find ways to smile and laugh during this time. TV Land aired prank-themed episodes of M.A.S.H., The Andy Griffith Show, Everybody Loves RaymondTwo and a Half Menand King of Queens for an April Foolishness Marathon on Wednesday, April 1 ( April Fools' Day).

VH1

VH1 aired episodes of Wild ‘N Out as marathons on April 2 and April 9 from 8 p.m.- 4 a.m. EST, and every Sunday from 7 p.m.-2 a.m. EST.

In addition, the brand also aired a LOL@HOME: Movie marathon of Big Momma’s HouseBeauty Shop, Barbershop: The Next Cut and Think Like a Man on Saturday, April 4 from 1:30 p.m.-4 a.m. EST, as well as a Bad Boys movie marathon on April 11.

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