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Streaming Deals (& Star Trek) Help Boost CBS Profits August 6, 2011

by Anthony Pascale , Filed under: CBS/Paramount,Trek on TV , trackback

As previously reported, during 2011, CBS has been cutting new streaming video deals with Netflix and Amazon, which include Star Trek content. Not only has this been a boon for Trek fans, but it appears to be a big money maker for CBS. This week the company reported their second quarter profits, which were up significantly and much of the gains were attributed to their new streaming video deals.

 

CBS making big money off library – including Star Trek

In 2005 CBS & Paramount stopped production on their last TV series, Star Trek: Enterprise. But since then they have of course continued to make money off Star Trek  through syndication and licensing, but in 2011 they are finding their library of TV shows (including Star Trek) are big money makers for digital distribution. This week CBS reported better than expected earnings, including revenues from content licensing of $889m for the three months ending June 30th (a 21% rise from last year). The increase is attributed to the new licensing deals with Amazon and Netflix and the biggest components of those deals was the catalog of five Star Trek TV series.

In an investors conference call this week CBS Chairman Les Moonves noted how shows like Star Trek, Cheers and I Love Lucy are helping "drive revenue and profit growth" for the company. Moonves went on to say about the CBS library:

At the heart of all the success is great content. Our content is performing extremely well and we are increasingly distributing it in the most profitable ways with new possibilities opening up all the time.

This use of the CBS library and Star Trek has got the notice of market watchers, here are some quotes following the earnings report:

Star Trek and I Love Lucy are making CBS an emerging winner in the media space.
TheStreet.com

Licensing deals with digital platforms like Netflix are allowing the Eye to generate new profits from vintage library fare such as "Cheers," "Star Trek" and "The Twilight Zone."
Variety

CBS reported a more than twofold increase in profit late Tuesday, its first earnings report to include early revenue from a deal it struck in February to give Netflix customers Internet access to older CBS TV
Wall Street Journal

Revenue from rerun sales and new online outlets increased 21 percent, the company said. Amazon.com signed an agreement with CBS to offer TV shows including “Num3ers” and “Medium” to the subscription service Amazon Prime, the companies said last month. CBS and Netflix announced an agreement in February for shows that include “Dexter” from the company’s Showtime cable network and the “Star Trek” TV series.
Bloomberg

CBS also noted how their deals with Netflix and Amazon were non-exclusive, so more deals should be expected, plus they also emphasized the opportunities for foreign digital library sales as well. All of this adds up to the possibility of Star Trek appearing on more platforms and in more locations.


Star Trek library helping CBS boost profits via new digital distribution deals

Moonves also looked to the future, noting that while Star Trek and other shows were part of the libary of "old" content, CBS is still producing new content that will eventually flow into these digital deals.

We have a lot of old stuff and part of this — part of the Netflix and Amazon deal go back to original episodes of Star Trek and I Love Lucy, but they also include a show like Medium, which just went off the air this past year. What we’ve been able to do successfully is continue to replenish our library. We have 3 CSIs that are now on the air that aren’t part of these Netflix deals or the Amazon deals. One day, they will come off the air, and we will get a lot of money for those in those platforms. So the idea is our production companies, both at CBS as well as original production at Showtime, are going to continue to produce numerous revenue streams, and our library is astronomical.

It is likely that CBS will let Paramount continue to take the lead for new Star Trek content for another film or two, but it is good to see Star Trek contributing to the bottom line of its corporate parent. One can only hope the renewed interest in Star Trek both on the big screen and via these new digital deals will help convince CBS to consider creating new Star Trek content for its library in the future.

One encouraging sign is how CBS is now seriously considering remastering Star Trek: The Next Generation in HD. Such a project will require significant investment (more than the original series Star Trek Remastered project) and shows at least some renewed interest in Star Trek at CBS.

 

Comments

1. Vultan - August 6, 2011

Gee, CBS, you think maybe—just maybe—there’s an audience out there for NEW Trek on television? And guess what? You could make even MORE MONEY that way!!!

An amazing concept, isn’t it?

2. CmdrR - August 6, 2011

1 – Vultan, you sadden me with your limited grasp of the real world. This is network TV. We don’t want to spend money to make money. We want to make money by selling crap we have sitting around. Ed Sullivan’s collar stays? They can be yours for a pittance of $44,500. Or how about this lovely Edward R. Murrow end table with the original cigarette burns? A steal at $650,430! Star Trek? That’s something we got at NBC’s last rummage sale. Why make new ones when people are still buying the old ones, over and over and over and over…

3. Brett Campbell - August 6, 2011

On a side note, by way of TV: Anthony is Rosario all right? We haven’t had one of his excellent genre or TV updates in awhile.

I hope it’s a case of his taking a well-earned vacation.

4. njdss4 - August 6, 2011

“CBS and Netflix announced an agreement in February for shows that include “Dexter” from the company’s Showtime cable network”

More good news! I had not heard that Dexter was coming to Netflix instant watch. Dexter is a great show!

5. pilotfred - August 6, 2011

this is great it show them that a market is still there for trek and when the movie have done the can move trek back to the small screen in the prime line

6. Craiger - August 6, 2011

I thought Paramount’s plan was to wait until the movies are done because they don’t want to oversaturate Trek like they did the last time? If so we wont see a new Trek series until 2020. Imagine the CGI effects then.

7. Allen Williams - August 6, 2011

I will totally buy the remaining 25 seasons of star trek on blu-ray. Just do it. I’ll buy it.

8. *into the bushes* - August 6, 2011

@1: icwatudidthar.

9. Vultan - August 6, 2011

#2

Yes, yes, always with my head in the clouds. A new Trek series? Originality from Hollywood? Art and hard work over profit? What was I thinking…?

10. Andy Patterson - August 6, 2011

I have two friends that are always calling and telling me of an old episode they ‘just discovered’.

“Hey man, have you seen the one with Ted Cassidy who played Lurch?…..It’s a great episode! He plays an android. Just watched that last night on NetFlix”

“Yeah, I know,….I’ve seen it,…it’s a good one. And an old one.”

So, I guess it’s working because it seems people are watching and redisovering it again. Excellent.

11. pilotfred - August 6, 2011

Have faith it will happend and 2016 is just around the corner

12. Brett Campbell - August 6, 2011

10 — And for 10 points and the lead, Robert Bloch’s mention of the Old Ones in “What are Little Girls Made Of” is an allusion to the works of which author — a pen-friend and mentor of Bloch?

Did I sound like Alex Trebek?

13. Brett Campbell - August 6, 2011

10 — Also very cool about your friends discovering TOS episodes for the very first time. I’m envious!

14. Basement Blogger - August 6, 2011

I just got Netflix for my XBOX. I’ve been catching up on Enterprise. This is a good show. Great to see a possible expansion to foreign digital sales. Hopefully, that will improve box office in foreign markets. The more money Star Trek makes, the more Star Trek. At least that’s what I hope. Come on Les Moonves, take a chance on a limited TV series, say on AMC. Anthony P. put it best by saying that televsion is best medium for Star Trek since it would allow for more complex story telling.

15. Craiger - August 6, 2011

I wonder how much a new Trek TV series would cost today? Wasn’t Enterprise one of the most expensive shows on TV or the most? In today’s economy I wonder how they could even do a new Trek TV series. Unless they did something like Star Wars: The Clone Wars? Or used green screen for everything?

16. red dead ryan - August 6, 2011

#15.

That’s a good question. I agree that CBS isn’t likely to take a big financial risk in greenlighting a new (most likely expensive) “Star Trek” series that will only get a fraction of what “Dancing With The Stars” gets in terms of audience numbers and advertising revenue. They could do an animated series which would be a lot less risky, and would help bring in kids. But I don’t know when they’d show it because the traditional cartoon hours, which used to be Saturday and Sunday mornings, are now being filled by news programs and paid programs.

17. Browncoat1984 - August 6, 2011

Hey CBS, how thanking the fans of Trek for giving you that revenue by making an official announcement that Star Trek:TNG would be remastered on blu ray and Star Trek Enterprise would be released in HD on blu ray (since that show requires no remastering) You could also easily do the Animated Series on blu ray too to help boost revenue even more!

#15 I think to answer your question, look at the cost of recent space-based series like Battlestar Galactica and Stargate Universe and you probably have your answer, somewhere in that neighborhood I imagine.

#16 this is my biggest fear with any new Star Trek series…especially with the recent cancellation of Stargate Universe and the overall depressing state of sci-fi on regular TV. That even with the popularity of the new movie, a new series would still not draw the required viewers (mainly due to an antiquated ratings system that even in 1966 did not give an accurate account of Star Trek’s viewers). What they should do is what you suggest – do a new animated series to test the waters. As far as when it would air, cartoon network airs new episodes of The Clone Wars on Friday nights, so they could do something like that, air it in the evenings. Because like The Clone Wars, a new Trek animated series would appeal to both kids and adults.

I think until we see Lucas come up with a new method for shooting sci-fi with his new Star Wars TV show that he says he’s doing, we won’t see any new space-based dramas become a hit, because they’re too expensive and they just won’t get enough viewers to warrant continuation. I think it all hinges on Lucas doing what he does best…innovating with new technology.

18. DS9 IN PRIME TIME - August 6, 2011

The more money CBS and Paramount make off theses deals the more likely they are at bringing star trek back to the small screen!! I hope it happens soon and I hope its Cannon in the normal timeline.

19. Craiger - August 6, 2011

I found this 2002 Multichannel article that said then it cost $500, 000 to $2 Million an episode for a drama.

http://www.multichannel.com/article/59191-Networks_Holy_Grail_An_Original_Series_Hit.php

20. Christopher Roberts - August 7, 2011

Leslie Moonves was responsible for cancelling STAR TREK Enterprise.

How about bringing it back?

21. Christopher Roberts - August 7, 2011

20. (cont) Cut down just as it was as getting good as TNG and DS9, around their third & fourth seasons. Jettisoning what didn’t work and connecting itself to the rest of the franchise. Theme song out of the picture and it would’ve been perfect.

22. Craiger - August 7, 2011

Actually Enterprise was cancelled based on low ratings. Moonves said he liked the direction Enterprise was going in Season 4 but had to cancel it due to low ratings. In TV its all about money and ratings. Shows are getting cancelled left and right with the same ratings Enterprise had.

23. Chadwick - August 7, 2011

Just give me a new liveaction tv series.

24. red dead ryan - August 7, 2011

“Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” was another great show that got canned because of dropping ratings.

I think the problem is that people like to record their shows and watch it when they have time as opposed to the old days when they had to take time out of whatever they were doing just to catch an episode of their favorite show. There isn’t really an accurate measure of how many people watch a particular show in a given timeframe versus how many record it and watch later, or stream it on the web.

The current system is mostly guestimation.

25. Craiger - August 7, 2011

Their wasn’t enough viewers even with the DVR ratings for Sara Conner because Syfy even cancelled the reruns they were airing because no one was watching or recording those.

26. Craiger - August 7, 2011

I forgot to add I watched both Enterprise and the Terminator series.

27. Christopher Roberts - August 7, 2011

Important to say that most of the multi-media ways of watching the show weren’t officially provided around back when Enterprise was on the air. It was illegal Limewire torrents back then. The show was among the most downloaded at the time many were doing that. All which tends to count toward in the final anaylsis these days.

Heck I remember guys from the cast, telling fans not to watch the weekend repeat, because UPN weren’t counting viewers for whom the weekday was pre-empted by sports or conflicted with a show on Sci-Fi.

28. Commodore Mike of the Terran Empire - August 7, 2011

here is hopeing for a trek animated series. Or at least a Remastering of the Tas and tng

29. thegermanmatthias - August 7, 2011

Money, money, money on the one side.
The far, unexplored galaxy on the other side.
Somehow these things are in different aereas in my brain.
But, well, if it works, …. let them make their money, when I will get my
new Star Trek adventtures!

30. Rastaman - August 8, 2011

Does anyone know the extent of Amazon’s license with CBS for Star Trek? When does it take effect?

I was under the impression that they would be streaming all the Star Trek series just like Netflix. However, they do not currently carry any of it as far as I can tell.

31. Elvis Shatner - August 8, 2011

Just picked up an Apple TV 2 and am loving Netflix so far.
They don’t get the new stuff immediately but their back catalog is extensive enough that it’s well worth the $8 for unlimited streaming. They have everything Trek except for Deep Space 9, which is supposed to be added later this Fall. :)

32. Brett Campbell - August 9, 2011

Aw, no one has answered my quiz question at #12. C’mon genre geeks!

33. Christopher Roberts - August 10, 2011

In the meantime…

I’d like to see an experiment done where CBS rebrands Star Trek Enterprise and sees how many viewers that gets on one of its main flagships channels, at an hour unprecidented for a 10 year old property.

13 of the best episodes, mostly from Season 4 although some of the earlier ones. North Star has a “Cowboys and Aliens” vibe. Broken Bow still one of the best Star Trek pilots. Regeneration with the Borg in it is underrated.

Completely new opening title sequence, losing the middle of the road pop song.

Outlay to CBS? Basically nothing.

Star Trek Enterprise celebrates its 10th Anniversary this September. Give it another shot.

34. Christopher Roberts - August 10, 2011

HOW ABOUT IT, CBS ENTERPRISES?
Requires not much effort at all…

You know, in Prime-time or close to?

Lose “Faith of the Heart” from the titles, to give it a fighting chance. So even Simon Pegg wouldn’t dare turn over.

How many people had HD back when it was on the air BUT do now?

Somekind of initiative for a new generation of kids to it another shot. Watching online is nice, but it doesn’t get its pasty face out of the basement and into the sun.

There are enough stories in the last Star Trek series to assemble a line-up that doesn’t outstay its welcome.

Test what reception a show would get on TV now-a-days for crying out loud…

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