Les Moonves revealed this morning that CBS had to wait six months after the premier of Star Trek Beyond before launching their new Star Trek television series, which will premier on CBS All Access next January. He also spoke about the future of All Access, including a possible merge with Showtime.
Speaking to a crowd at the Deutsche Bank Media, Internet & Telecom Conference this morning, CBS CEO Les Moonves spoke about the split of Viacom, which resulted in CBS and Paramount fighting over what Moonves calls a “family jewel”: Star Trek.
“When [CBS and Paramount] split from Viacom ten years ago, January 1, 2006, one of the big sticking points, as you can imagine, was “Star Trek.” You know, we both wanted it.
[Paramount] said “It’s a movie!” and I said, “No, no, no, it’s a TV show.” Actually, we’re both right. So they kept the feature film rights, we kept the television rights; they have [Star Trek Beyond] coming out July 22.”
Moonves revealed that part of the deal between the two production companies was a waiting period in between the new movies and a new television series.
“Our deal with [Paramount] is that we had to wait six months after their film is launched so there wouldn’t be a confusion in the marketplace.”
Star Trek is CBS’s Family Jewel
As Moonves has said before, he and CBS consider Star Trek a “family jewel” and are using the franchise to bolster their new streaming service, CBS All Access. For Trekkies, Moonves’s faith in the show is a good thing, since it means CBS will put their full backing behind the series in a way that appeals to its already massive fanbase.
“Star Trek is an expensive show. It’s the family jewel, obviously. The previous Star Trek shows that we sold to Netflix did extraordinarily well; I don’t think it’s a great surprise that Trekkies would go to the [streaming services] of the world. So we sort of felt that we had a tiger in the bottle.
We announced Star Trek, and internationally, we basically have covered 60% of the cost of the show already. To make up that [other] 40%, it’s not going to take a whole lot of subscriptions, and it says to the world that we are very serious about this.
When you put something on [All Access], it’s got to be something special, something you wouldn’t find on the [CBS broadcast network], something that will attract subscribers. As I said, Star Trek was kind of a no-brainer: there aren’t a lot of [properties] out there with that kind of following.
In 2017, when Star Trek starts on All Access, we think that it’s going to be extraordinarily successful.”
The future of CBS All Access
A lot can change to CBS’s All Access streaming service between now and the premier of Star Trek next January. Today, Moonves hinted at a so-called “skinny bundle” of All Access and the standalone Showtime offering, at a discount to their current pricing. Showtime launched its standalone streaming service in July at a hefty $10.99/month.
“Someone’s going to figure out how to do this and how to give people what they want to watch, and it’s not for $100 a month. It will be for $35 or $39 dollars a month where you’ll really get the 12 to 15 or 18 channels that you care about. And not get the karate channel for 25 cents a month. That doesn’t make sense anymore.”
Moonves called the idea of skinny bundles “inevitable” and called them a “great idea… that will become more and more a part of our culture.”
“No matter what universe you live in, you have to have us…. You can’t live without CBS,” he said.
Moonves hinted that All Access would be seeing new and different features pre-Trek launch, saying that, while All Access has been successful, “we haven’t pulled out all of the stops. Next year it’s going to add substantially to our bottom line.” And, he implied that Star Trek will be the driving force behind All Access’s success:
“I think when “Star Trek” starts, which is in January 2017, I think you’re going to see a larger marketing push for [All Access] right then because there will be a lot of people who will sign up then.”
He said that shortly after Star Trek, subscribers can expect about three or four more originals on All Access.
Ad-free All Access?
One of the biggest consumer complaints about the All Access streaming service is the fact that viewers who pay $5.99/month for the service are obligated to sit through the same advertisements they would see for free over the air on the CBS broadcast network. Moonves has talked about implementing an ad-free version of the service for some time now, and has floated the idea of a $9.99/month ad-free service.
Moonves’s speech was streamed live this morning, and you can listen to the archived version for free after a quick registration with Deutsche Bank here.