Today has brought business news related to both CBS and Paramount Pictures, the two separate companies that share Star Trek. For CBS, the CEO is again touting the upcoming show Discovery as the driving force behind the growth of their All Access streaming service. As for Paramount, the company has inked an important co-financing deal with one of the partners for the last two Star Trek feature films.
CBS CEO predicts Star Trek will drive All Access growth this fall
Today CBS announced their second quarter earnings with revenue up 9.4% to $3.26 billion. In a call with investors, CEO Les Moonves touted the CBS All Access platform noting that together with the Showtime streaming service, it should reach a total of over four million subscribers by the end of this year.
Moonves specifically discussed Discovery during the call:
You have all heard quite a bit about the debut of Star Trek: Discovery next month. I have now seen the first six episodes and I can assure you that it is terrific. It is the perfect vehicle to take All Access to the next level and beyond.
The company also announced that CBS All Access will be going global, although with regards to Star Trek: Discovery Moonves clarified that Netflix will retain the international rights as part of their deal. Moonves summed up the future outlook for CBS All Access thusly:
With a full season of NFL, Star Trek: Discovery, and more and more original programming and every episode of every CBS show on CBS this fall, and international expansion, we are just getting started with All Access.
During the Q&A with the investment press, Moonves was asked about growth of All Access and again cited the upcoming launch of Discovery:
This fall with Star Trek, the NFL and new programming we really think it should grow quite a bit.
And in response to another question about their content strategy for All Access and other platforms, Moonves talked about their decision to put Discovery on All Access:
We could have put Star Trek on Showtime, on the CBS Television Network or Netflix, Amazon, they all wanted it for a lot of money. We determined that Star Trek would be far better for All Access and will earn us more money.
As we have reported before, Star Trek: Discovery is seen by CBS as the key to meeting growth expectations for their All Access streaming service. And just last week CBS announced new additional original programming and the addition of their CBSN 24/7 news network. During the call Moonves also announced CBS will be launching a 24/7 sports network.
While Moonves updated investors that he has seen six finished episodes, co-showrunner alerted Twitter yesterday on the status on the rest of the episodes in various levels of development or post-production.
— Aaron Harberts (@AaronHarberts) August 6, 2017
Paramount renews with Skydance, seeks to assure Huahua
While CBS is doing quite well money-wise, Viacom (parent company of Paramount Pictures who hold the rights to make Star Trek movies) is still struggling in that area. But today brought some good news as Variety reports Skydance Media and Paramount Pictures announced they have renewed their partnership. David Ellison’s Skydance has partnered with Paramount on a number of recent tentpole films, including both Star Trek Into Darkness and Star Trek Beyond. Ellison was also credited as an executive producer on both films.
After a number of box office disappointments Skydance was apparently looking to end the relationship but the recent hiring of a new Paramount CEO has kept them in the fold.
“We have the utmost confidence in Paramount’s bright future under the strategic direction of Jim Gianopulos, and we look forward to continuing to partner with him and the world-class leadership team that he has put in place,” David Ellison said in a statement. “From beloved franchises to wholly original IP and bold new animated films, together we have ambitious plans to bring more great stories to the big screen for audiences around the globe.”
The announcement included a number of previously announced upcoming Paramount films including installments from the Mission: Impossible, Top Gun, World War Z and Terminator franchises, but did not mention Star Trek.
Variety is also reporting that executives from Viacom are headed to China to secure additional future financing with Huahua, another partner on Star Trek Beyond. The Chinese company is said to be unhappy with the performance of recent Paramount films in China (notably Baywatch and Transformers: The Last Night) and want reassurances about the future slate.
Huahua believes it still has the ability to get out of the deal if Paramount films do not improve their financial performance in the next 12 to 24 months. The hope is that next week’s meeting, during which Viacom will present new proposals and preview upcoming releases, will better clarify Paramount’s long-term strategy.
“Viacom needs to explain a better plan for how it spends [our] investment money,” the Huahua source said.
As we have reported, Paramount and its parent Viacom see Star Trek as one of their key tentpole franchises, and all ‘tentpole’ films from Paramount require outside financing from partners like Skydance and Huahua. These deals could be critical components of decisions on what to do next with the Trek film franchise.