Will CBS’s New Trek Digital Roll-Out Save Television From Extinction?


In the TNG episode “The Neutral Zone”, Data comments that television as an entertainment form went extinct in 2040. If it doesn’t go extinct, it’s certainly evolving and the good people at CBS are hoping they can win in this survival of the fittest.


Following the news that a new Trek series would debut online in early 2017, the Internet exploded with enthusiasm, speculation, and cynicism.

We know very little about the new series right now, except for the format: the series, after premiering on the CBS broadcast network, will run all subsequent episodes on CBS’s digital VOD subscription platform, CBS All Access. To compete with original content from providers like Hulu and Netflix, this will be the first original scripted series produced specifically for All Access (which costs $6/month and includes ads).

CBS President and CEO Leslie Moonves focused on the new series in a phone call Tuesday while discussing CBS’s third-quarter earnings. He said:

A lot of conversation went into what we were going to do [with Star Trek]. All Access is very important. We remain a good partner for Netflix and Hulu. Star Trek is a family jewel; it’s an important piece of business for us as we go forward. We’re looking to do original content on All Access and build up that platform. Netflix is our friend [and] competitor. They compete with [CBS Corp.’s] Showtime. All Access will put out original content and knowing the loyalty of Star Trek fans, this will boost it. … There’s about a billion channels out there and because of Star Trek, people will know what All Access is about.

CBS stock rose slightly (about two points) since the news was announced Monday morning, and the network doubtless waited until this week to announce the new Trek series to soften the blow among investors that the network had missed its quarterly earnings estimate because of a drop in ad revenue.

While CBS dominates the airwaves with its host of procedurals – we’ve noted that CBS could bring Trek back as a procedural – the entertainment landscape has changed considerably since Enterprise went off the air 10 years ago and that trend will doubtless continue through the next 10 years.

The Verge noted that a “resurrected Star Trek could be the Trojan Horse CBS needs to get people excited about its offering, allowing it to launch even better shows for online viewers.” Indeed Moonves opened the call by noting that CBS will “live long and prosper,” which is certainly more clever than uninspired reporters (sigh) again use the phrase “boldly going where it’s never gone before” to describe a new Trek digital series.

Note however that executives using a Star Trek series to launch a new entertainment platform is hardly “boldly going” anywhere new for the franchise.  Star Trek: Phase II was going to be the centerpiece of a proposed Paramount Network in 1978, but the studio rethought the whole TV idea and ultimately made Star Trek: The Motion Picture instead.  Years later, Star Trek: Voyager was created with the specific task of helping launch UPN. (If you’re interested in hearing some of TrekMovie’s thoughts on Voyager, be sure to check out our most recent episode of the Shuttle Pod.)

UPN was hardly a success story, having to eventually merge with the WB. Will Star Trek: Untitled Sequel Series be more successful with CBS All Access?

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If CBS All Access is hoping to do better than UPN did with Voyager, this new series better be pretty darn good. If they’re counting on Star Trek fans loyalty beyond the first few episodes, it better be made with Star Trek fans in mind.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Voyager. Not my favorite Star Trek series, but darn it, they boldy went where no one from the Alpha quadrant had gone before. Should it have been entrusted to carry a new network? IMO, no.

CBS, please pay attention to the past while making this new future. Thanks!

Television? The Tele? TV? Yea, it’s sitting there gathering dust. There’s no way I could afford anything like this, or the myriad other cable ripoffs let alone a network cable off shoot. I suspect most are like me, I watch everything online. Yes, the quality is a crap shot. But I can afford it.

Back in the day, TV was free. With ads, sure, but cable was promised to be ad free in the beginning and look how that turned out?

Personally, if hackers providing content online for free is still a better business model than what ‘they are proposing, I’ll just stick with the hackers. I think, for example, Netflix is great, don’t get me wrong. I’d love to pay a bit for a quality thing, but Big Media HAS to get their act together if I’m gonna pay.

As I recall, TNG was launched exclusively in first-run syndication as a way to bring viewers to that platform, cobbled together from local stations eager for original programming that circumvented the big broadcast networks in an era when they dominated original programming. This is really no different.

Well, since it’s an internet streaming service, it’s not technically “television”. Additionally, since they somehow think that their single network is worth a $6/month fee for content that right now contains no original-to-the-service programming, and when this airs, will include ONE show, they’re clearly delusional. HD Netflix is 11-12 bucks a month, and it includes a WORLD of content beyond the crap that plays on broadcast CBS, and has done forever. I hope the series is good, and I hope they change their streaming service plan, otherwise I’m torrenting it.

Let’s get this show started! Engage!


If CBS All Access will show the Trek episodes commercial free or with limited commercials only at the beginning, then maybe I’ll consider subscribing. Even then I would tend to wait for the full season to be out and only subscribe for a month then cancel. I can’t imagine CBS All Access having enough content to keep me subscribed continuously.

I’ll just stick with the all-in-one providers like Netflix and Hulu.

The only good thing is ratings won’t matter in the early going. It will be considered a loss leader and given every Chance to raise awareness for All Access.

At this juncture I shall defer to Lando Calrissian:


I’m perfectly happy with Netflix. Not gonna spend the same amount on one channel. I like #6’s idea…subscribe for only a month and watch the whole season. I’m spoiled having grown up in the glory days of Trek TV…the ’90s. Just flip to a free channel and there it was. Star Trek. No cable necessary.

I don’t understand this aspect of the business, but if Showtime and other channels are already owned by CBS, then why not merge their online content? That would certainly be more competitive with respect to HBO. Twin Peaks and Star Trek, 2017. They should be in the same space.

Well, why isn’t CBS selling this to Hulu? Or Netflix??? Well, they want another UPN? Remember what happened to Enterprise? Just sayin’.

Data, as I recall, was also the one who implored, “Could you please continue the petty bickering?” And thus it was and thus it shall be, as we argue about the merits of spending six buckaroos for a series most of us have spent 12 years looking to return to television.

TNG truly is prophetic. The arguments around six bucks, OTOH, admits more of pathos than prophecy.

WTF – subscription fees AND commercials?

Reading the comments, I have to wonder if everyone agrees that CBS is just making a new, ‘premium’, rip off. And Star Trek will sell it.

After all, there’s no reason they couldn’t use Showtime or any other venue they already own. As the commenters above me have pointed out.

Oh yea, and by any other venue I reckon they could just have the new Star Trek on, you know, CBS!

BTW, I say all this without knowing what the hell what this “All Access” thing is. Because, the article doesn’t tell me.

I totally agree Hat Rick. Six dollars isn’t THAT much, and it’s STAR TREK!!! The fans are all going to watch it, no matter how much they complain right now. The real question is how many new fans is it going to pull if it’s the only original new content on all access? I how it does well, because, after all, STAR TREK TELEVISION IS BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I find it interesting that Moonves gave the green light for a new Star Trek show. He was, after all, the one who cancelled Enterprise on UPN and ended years of ST on TV when he was head of that “network.” Now the show will be distributed online, rather than such a network.

I just hope the new show will be available on Blu-Ray at some point. That’s they way I’ve been watching “TV” shows for years now and that’s not going to change as long as shows are available that way.
But I’m afarid it might not be since CBS has a history of not releasing valuable series in BD anymore (Elementary!)…

I want Trek17 on Blu-Ray… and hopefully set in the classic universe…

If this is real “Star Trek”, it’ll succeed.
If it’s that Abrams horseshite, it’ll fail.
It’s that simple.

#15 Plum – The article very definitely tells you what the hell it is.

According to the article, All Access is “CBS’s digital VOD subscription platform.” The article then explains that they are trying to “compete with original content from providers like Hulu and Netflix,” so you have both a description of what All Access is and a comparison to two similar services.


Les Moonves is looking at the future and seeing that the future of broadcast networks like CBS is quite bleak. The future of cable networks may also be rather bleak as people start building their filmed entertainment choices around streaming and mobile platforms.

It seems like nobody knows what the real future of television is, but streaming “networks” like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu may be it. CBS wants to control their content so they are trying to create their own viable streaming service. In order to do that they need a major draw for it. They know that there are millions of people like many of us here who will likely at least give their service a try if they give us a new “Star Trek”. Whether that will be enough to sustain their service, who knows? Possibly not. In that case the new Trek will probably end up on Netflix or Showtime (which is now allied with Hulu) or something.

Eat one less Snickers per week and there is your All Access fee.

A paraphrase :)
Well it looks like he hates it.
Yes, that is it. I hate this. It is revolting!

#15: Yes, it does tell you.

Im guessing an episode a month in order to keep subscribers hooked. Add to that a “Talking Trekk” Aftershow maybe hosted by a TOS or TNG alumni.

I have a ROKU Streaming video player hooked to my tv. Pretty cheap investment ($50).

Guessing our first good look at the product will be on the video release of ST Beyond. As I recall that was the case of TNG on the VHS release of (I think) The Voyage Home. That would be in the Halloween-Thanksgiving period.

I’m sure “Star Trek: Untitled Sequel Series” would have missed the mark, but Kurtzman’s Trek show and the rest of this original content he mentions are a perfect example of transitioning to the future of television.

However, I don’t see how they can keep the price at $5.99 under this strategy. Netflix has both raised it’s price and dropped the number of mainstream movies it streams since moving toward original content.

I’ll wait for the Blu-Ray release (unless I hear from loyal Trek fans that it is too good not to miss)

CBS knows that the hardcore Trek fans will subscribe so they will have numbers to back up substantial growth from one day to the next (the day before Trek and the day after). And they hope that will lead to momentum.

But this wont work, at least not very well. Everyone wants to be Netflix but they also want to keep working with Netflix because Netflix is better.

WWE launched a network akin to Netflix, marketed to a core fanbase (like Star Trek) and using their PPV events as leverage. And still they see a large rise for WrestleMania and then a bunch of people unsubscribe. Unless CBS has something more than Star Trek, the same thing will happen.

They are relying on X amount of people deciding $6 per month is better than going to the trouble of cancelling and re-subbing next season. This has the chance of being the least watched Star Trek series of all time.

I’ve seen a lot of ranting about the fact that the new series is coming to All Access. But consider this:

Star Trek fans often like to consider themselves special. Most of us seem to think that we’re a bit smarter than the average TV watcher and a bit more forward-thinking. One reason why everyone wants Trek to come back to TV is so that we won’t need so much mindless slam-bang action and can get character-driven stories about big ideas.

If the new Star Trek were going to be on BROADCAST television, it would need sufficient ratings to attract advertising revenue, which means at least some appealing to the lowest common denominator.

But being on a video-on-demand service means that as long as Star Trek attracts enough paying subscribers to recoup its costs, it’s a success. So being on VOD means that the new show can appeal to serious Trek fans without having to bring in a lot of folks who want action or romance or various kinds of drivel.

VOD means that we can have character-driven stories about big ideas, which means that having Star Trek on All Access may be the very thing that ensures that we get the kind of Star Trek that so many of us have been wanting.

No guarantees, of course — it depends on the quality of the writing (and the cast and directors, of course, but mostly the writing). But it gives us the POSSIBILITY, whereas other formats might not.

Now that I think about it, I think that maybe it’s actually a GOOD thing that CBS is putting the new Trek on All Access, because it gives us possibilities that broadcast TV wouldn’t.

I believe that we shouldn’t look too closely at the movies as indications of how the new TV series will be. The only Star Trek movie that I feel was anything like an episode of the series was Generations, and that’s because the TNG cast and crew had 10 days between the end of shooting the series and the beginning of shooting the movie. The Star Trek movies all deal with big fate of the galaxy stuff. There isn’t much time for the beautiful character moments that you get in the TV episodes. (Though there are some great character moments in the movies too.)

We may complain now that CBS is blatantly trying to profit off of us Trek fans by charging us $6 a month to watch new Star Trek, but I think we all know that when the time comes, we’ll probably pay it. And buy the DVD/Blurays. And the itunes. And the merchandise.

Just look at Hulu vs. Hulu plus for mobile devices.

One is free, with paid advertising. The other is $ to subscribe for for the same programming, complete with commercials, only you can access with from your phone or tablet rather than just the computer. It’s a racket…but a lucrative one as people are giving hulu money hand over fist. It’s a business model that is proven. And, admittedly, I’ll be in line to do the same for CBS and Star Trek, because I really want to watch it and it’s not prohibitively expensive.

I can skip one expensive starbucks coffee or a combo meal at my favorite fast food joint once a month…the entertainment value for the $ spent is actually quite good.

Sure, I hate it that CBS is double dipping with my $ and its advertisers, but this is new STar Trek.. lol And, it certainly helps that it’s not a bad deal, dollar for dollar, for what I’m getting. And…if the price to subscribe goes up and the show sucks, I can always cancel. I’m totally cool with this.


Hulu Introduces $11.99 Commercial-Free Option, But Vows To Boost Ad Sales

Hulu has finally responded to the chorus of subscribers who don’t want to put up with ads when they pay a monthly fee to stream movies and TV shows. The service today adds an $11.99-a-month ad-free option, while maintaining its $7.99 service with what it describes as “limited commercials.”

At $11.99, Hulu’s ad-free option would be more expensive than Netflix, which is ad-free at $7.99. But CEO Mike Hopkins tells me that it’s still less expensive than HBO Now at $14.99, and close to Showtime’s new online service at $10.99.


To all the folks curious about the business model- Consider Trek the “Halo Car” to get you in the showroom door. You’re coming to look at the Corvette, but you’re most likely buying the Impala, Malibu or Cruze.

As to those who would wait or pirate- You run the risk of spoilers and missing out.

A good model here might be Doctor Who. How much is consumed by BBC over the air paying customers? How much is BBCi (second day) and how much is pirated? I don’t know- (but worth considering)

Does the CBS model make sense? Depends on the amount of great content. I am skeptical, as CBS only gets me for Colbert and the occasional Big Bang Theory. With new Trek is that enough to keep me paying? Not sure.

What have I been willing to pay for? (I am soon to be a “no cable box house”

So- with my “Over the Air/free” I add broadband for free YouTube
Plus subscriptions to Netflix, Hulu and HBO

I am a Netflix customer only for New DareDevil, House of Cards, and HD TOS and Next Gen Trek. Netflix movies are old, and selections, odd.

Hulu is great for TV (and classic TV) and Indie /Foreign films (commercial free!)

HBO: No one has to ask why they have HBO. Everything you like elsewhere and more.

Disney could have started a new streaming model based on all it’s Disney, Marvel, Star Wars, Muppets, etc. Interesting that it didn’t and instead distributes its content and IP on a multitude of platforms.

Will CBS have enough content for a real honest to goodness service of its own? Not sure-

Not even NBC Universal is trying it- That’s why it has part of Hulu.

As to the 5.99 price- That’s the loss leader. Gets you in the door. CBS has less content, so lower price. It also may have some commercials (Hulu basic). Some of its shows may already be shown on other platforms (and/or be shown later) More than likely a Trek will be also purchased on BluRay – which will further amortize the production costs. I mean- 4K, c’mon. Who’s not buyin’ the 4K Dolby Atmos versions?

As to which universe- it’s not a zero sum game if handled properly.

I doubt Kurtzman would do anything to directly contradict what will have been seen by 2017 in the movie universe – but he’s not blind either. He can read BBS and TrekMovie posts (or get Bob Orci’s views on them). Certainly he and CBS each know by now where the Trek Fans minds are on any new series. They need the folks that pay- so unless they are tone deaf, they will stretch to reach both Prime and NuTrek customers, while crafting and presenting the best stories their writing, production and marketing skills will permit.

Will it succeed? Look to what Kurtzman has done before. Look to what CBS needs him to do here. Will there be risk taking? Will there be compelling stories?

Netflix without House of Cards or Daredevil is still Netflix.

What is CBS all Access without Trek?

Colbert… and Sheldon.


I will just wait till its out on DVD and rent from Netflix.

The problem with putting shows on network TV is that the shows have to appeal to everyone across all demographics. Sci-fi shows have always struggled on network TV If the show becomes too sci-fi, that might turn off some viewers. Low viewership means lower advestising revenue for the network. Unlike the 60s and 70s, where there were limited channels, these days, viewers have much more options; they can easily switch over to another channel if they don’t like what they see.

Sci-fi shows have always found better success in syndication and on cable networks. The schedule of the shows can be easily adjusted across markets. In NYC, the show can be schedule for Friday night while in LA, another night to find its audience. In some markets, the show would broadcast twice in the same week. You cannot do that with a network TV show. I think that was one of the problems Star Trek Enterprise had. Because it was on a network channel, the show only broadcasted once a week and on the same night and time.

At least with this CBS VOD option, the people that are paying for it are the ones who really want to watch it. There might be some good sci-fi stories that won’t be diluted to cater to the mainstream audience. Plus there’s the flexibility of watching the show whenever you want.

Sorry will not pay to watch commercials sigh.

Is CBS All Access only offering “family” programming? Or will we be able to have an adult-oriented series? It’s a pay channel, so it makes me wonder.

I am not talking “Game of Thrones: Kronos,” but simply being able to explore themes more openly, i.e. showing the real cost of war, or the politics around sexual orientation, etc. for what it is, without hiding behind metaphors.

#36: Do you ever go to the movies? If so, you pay to watch commercials.


Not a fair comparison. You are forced to watch commercials if you go to the movies. You are not forced to pay for a service in your home.

As i said in another post…

All this is, is a bunch of corporate suits trying to brainwash the public into paying for something they used to get for free and at the same time make them feel like they are getting some type of tremendous value…Smarten up people.

I wonder if there will be nudity and other adult themes (even graphic violence) on this proposed show, given that we’re dealing with VOD.

If we get sex and full frontal nudity, Ill pay the $6.

Unlike TV, they don’t show commercials throughout the movie in the theaters.

If you live in the United States, and you exist “on the grid” then you almost certainly bought items that once advertised on TV. And so, whether you saw the ad or not, then you were paying for your content. And I mean to say, there never was free content.

I often used to believe people would stop eating if McDonald’s and Coca Cola didn’t keep reminding audiences what to do.

Like the other streaming channels, they’ll probably have a 30-day free trial. If so, just wait until they release the entire season, watch it during the free trial, then cancel before charges kick in.

Either way, if this new offering doesn’t offer smart, contemporary writing geared towards adults (like the last two films did not), I’m out. However, if this is something akin to the quality of AMC’s and FX’s best offerings, this may be a great thing.

“and knowing the loyalty of Star Trek fans, this will boost it”

Translated…Let’s milk those Trekkies for all they’re worth!

Well not me buddy. I will NOT pay an extra service just to watch a new Star Trek series.

‘Nuff said.

I have to agree that because of where it will be at, this will never be a popular hit that is widely watched.

It’s kind of doomed to be the least known Star Trek even if it is really good.

I guess if CBS gets enough subscriptions they will be okay with that.

12. Hat Rick – November 3, 2015

Having to pay a monthly fee to watch one show with commercials stings no matter the price.

But, if it were a fantastic show—like as good as TNG, BSG (especially the first two seasons) or Mad Men, then I’d pay it. Though, it’s a disturbing precedent regardless (again, the prospect of having to pay a monthly fee for every network, plus Netflix, Amazon, Yahoo, etc….)

But, for a show run by a guy who’s known for mediocre TV shows? I’m just going to wait and see what people say about it. If discerning people start remarking that the show is surprisingly awesome, then I’ll pay up to see for myself. Otherwise, thanks but no thanks. I’d rather spend that time and money watching good Trek on Netflix (with no commercials!!!).

29. TUP – November 4, 2015

CBS knows that the hardcore Trek fans will subscribe so they will have numbers to back up substantial growth from one day to the next…

I’m reminded of one or two of regulars here who were sooo certain this time last year that there just aren’t nearly enough Trek fans to economically justify CBS doing a new TV show on a streaming platform, because the budgetary concerns would just be irreconcilable with a Trek show. These are the same people who kept harping about Paramobius’ rumors—a new Trek TV show announced this year being one of them—being all crackpot rantings of a disturbed lunatic. And what do you know? Nearly all of PM’s rumors have now borne out true. The only one that has neither been confirmed nor debunked is that Paramount rejected Orci’s script because it was too similar to a previous Trek work, possibly Star Trek: Planet of the Titans.

42. TUP – November 4, 2015

If we get sex and full frontal nudity, Ill pay the $6.

Heh—that’s the most exciting prospect of this new show that I’ve seen so far.

It would be a cheap ploy—as was the undies scene in STID—but, then again, pandering to the audience’s emotions, which K/O scripts typically do (see the intro George Kirk death scene in ST09), is also a cheap ploy. And at least T&A would be a more blatant, and in that way, a more honest cheap ploy.