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While Paramount Global lacks a primetime NFL mechanism for riding out what's left of the SAG-AFTRA strike, it does have the most prolific producer working in the video business today, Taylor Sheridan.
Lawmen: Bass Reeves, Sheridan's latest prequel spinoff to his highly successful flagship series, Yellowstone, just debuted its first two episodes Sunday night on Paramount Plus. And the audience performance metrics appear to be solid (more on that down below).
Paramount now plans to take those two installments and air them back to back on CBS this coming Sunday (Nov. 12) at 9 p.m., following the network's 8 p.m. presentation of Yellowstone: Season 2, Episode 4, which originally premiered on the Paramount Network back on July 17, 2019. (You can see CBS' full schedule here.)
The term "found money" certainly applies to Yellowstone, with CBS generating broadcast TV's biggest non-live-football audience this fall season by broadcasting for the first time its five-year-old basic-cable hit. Paramount has said that 52% of the show's CBS audience hadn't seen Yellowstone prior to the CBS airings.
The surprise CBS success of Yellowstone has to mollify Paramount, which famously squandered exclusive streaming rights for Yellowstone, licensing them instead to NBCUniversal and Peacock.
But Paramount hasn't made the same mistake twice with all of its Yellowstone spinoffs, as well as Sheridan's other shows, which are all part of the Paramount Plus walled streaming garden.
The growing list of Yellowstone prequel/origin-story spinoffs, now reaching nearly a half-dozen shows, includes 1883. This 2021 limited one-season Western historical drama series stars Sam Elliot, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, and it tracks the original migration of Yellowstone's Dutton Family from Tennessee to Montana. It itself serves as a precursor to Lawmen: Bass Reeves.
Sheridan's latest show is billed as an "anthology series, with future iterations set to "follow other iconic lawmen and outlaws who have impacted history."
The current "Lawmen" iteration stars David Oyelowo (Selma, The After) in the title role, as the real-life former slave who became the first Black U.S. Deputy Marshal in American history.
Oyelowo, who also executive produces the show alongside 101 Studios heads Sheridan and former Weinstein Company operative David Glasser, works alongside what is a typically stacked Sheridan-series cast that also includes Donald Sutherland, Dennis Quaid and Barry Pepper.
Chad Feehan, a writers room denizen on Ann Biderman-led shows including gritty crime dramas Southland and Ray Donavan, serves as creator/show-runner.
Paramount Plus hasn't released any audience numbers for Bass Reeves, but Samba TV said 284,000 U.S. households tuned in for all or part of the first two episodes when they first dropped Sunday. That compares to 280,000 households in November of last year for Sheridan's Sylvester Stallone vehicle, Tulsa King.