What Star Trek’s Move to CBS All Access Means For The Franchise


CBS’s announcement that Star Trek will be returning to the small screen caught many fans and media by surprise. Perhaps most intriguing is that the 7th incarnation of Trek on television will be available exclusively on CBS’s online streaming platform. Can Star Trek All Access succeed as the network’s flagship venturing into a new frontier? Now that we’ve all had some time to digest it, we here at TrekMovie thought it might be fun to dissect CBS’s press release and see what we can glean from it.

We cover a great deal of this in more detail on our latest podcast as well, and we really think you should try it out. The Great Bird of the Galaxy would want you to.

First, let’s talk about the giant Sehlat in the room:

“The new series will blast off with a special preview broadcast on the CBS Television Network. The premiere episode and all subsequent first-run episodes will then be available exclusively in the United States on CBS All Access, the Network’s digital subscription video on demand and live streaming service…The new program will be the first original series developed specifically for U.S. audiences for CBS All Access, a cross-platform streaming service that brings viewers thousands of episodes from CBS’s current and past seasons on demand, plus the ability to stream their local CBS Television station live for $5.99 per month. CBS All Access already offers every episode of all previous Star Trek television series.”

The notion that it would cost money to see the new show upset a lot of people, who resent having to cough up more quatloos in order to watch something they think they should get over the broadcast airwaves or through their cable subscriptions. For years, cord-cutting millenials have been begging for a la carte content. They want to watch any show at any time on any device. But, as they say, be careful what you wish for.

Services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime got a head start on securing a large market share of monthly streaming content subscription services. HBO kept much of its audience while bringing in tons of new customers with their no-cable-necessary HBO NOW service, a highly profitable pivot for the network that has a history of providing top-notch original programming.

If the announcement had come this week that Star Trek would be a Netflix original program, fans would be jumping up and down willing to throw their money at the streaming giant that has successfully launched a myriad of high-budget, compelling original shows. So, why are those same fans so upset about All Access? A couple of reasons. First, it’s just another service to subscribe to. Ex-cable customers are loving their lower monthly bill after ditching their cable service, which cost a minimum of $66/month (for basic cable in the US) in 2014, and can easily exceed $100/month. But, in truth, you still end up saving a ton of money each month by subscribing to all your networks a la carte rather than having cable.

A month of Star Trek All Access: about the price of a cup of coffee

The second more subtle (and, perhaps more important) reason that fans are turned off by the move to only All Access is the fear that it may spell the beginning of the end for a show that hasn’t even aired yet. CBS is using Star Trek to anchor their streaming service. If you want to watch it, you’ve gotta subscribe, so they are banking on enough people paying to see Trek to help the budding service grow.

But, what about the undoubtedly significant number of fans for whom a streaming service is too much of a barrier? All Access strikes fear into the heart of some for two main reasons. First, Star Trek fans tend to skew older. Many of our beloved elder Trekkies (the ones you’re jealous of for getting to watch TOS during it’s original run) are now supposed to navigate the world of streaming television, where they have to buy a new “set top box” and subscribe to some new fangled technology. If grandma needs a detailed set of instructions to confidently operate the remote control, there’s no way she would understand All Access.

Old (and old-at-heart) people aside, what about people with only a passing interest in Star Trek? The new movies did do good for the franchise by stirring up interest in lots of only semi-interested would-be Trekkies (who then went back and watched the television series’ on Netflix). But, would they pay $6/month for one show that they may or may not care about? Probably not.

Star Trek has been used to bolster a new network before, and we all remember how well that turned out for the ratings.

This is not to say that the move to exclusive online is a bad one. CBS may just be on to something here, and if they have enough confidence in Star Trek to use it to anchor their streaming service, let’s hope they at least put their money where their mouth is and give the show a decent budget (and, more importantly, a great set of writers and show runners).

CBS: Sort of reaching toward the future
CBS’s decision to put Star Trek on All Access is one of several signs that many studios and networks are ultimately going to launch their own services, using their shows and movies to help ensure their success.

CBS President and CEO Les Moonves, during a conference call on Tuesday, said that CBS would still “remain a good partner for Netflix and Hulu”, but said that,

“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 a 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.”

Moonves’ proclamations of partnership aside, we think the long term play by CBS is to build up All Access with original shows like the new Star Trek, and then pull most, if not all, of their current and catalog content off of competing streaming services and place it on their own service exclusively. It’s likely that CBS is going to do just that with their large Star Trek catalog.

The old adage that “content is king” is more true than ever, which is why Netflix, Amazon, and others are creating their own shows in a bid to keep their subscribers and drive growth. CBS has a vast library going back 60 years or more and can leverage all of that to help bring in more subscribers.

Please wait, Star Trek is buffering

Exploring Strange New Worlds
Okay, let’s move on from all the business and distribution chat for a moment and talk about what’s truly important here, which is the show itself.

The announcement that Alex Kurtzman (sans writing partner Roberto Orci) would be shepherding the new show came as a surprise to many. His departure from the current movie series seemed to suggest that he was leaving the Star Trek universe behind. We don’t know much about what he and his producing partner Heather Kadin have in store, but the series will apparently feature:

“…new characters seeking imaginative new worlds and new civilizations, while exploring the dramatic contemporary themes that have been a signature of the franchise since its inception in 1966.”

This would seem to suggest that the show will embrace Star Trek’s long history of tackling important issues of the day, which will be welcome news to fans who feel that the current film series is too action-oriented and not cerebral enough.

Timelines Old and New
A huge question weighing on everybody’s mind is: in which timeline will the new series be set? The press release indicated that the new show is “not related to the upcoming feature film Star Trek Beyond”. This could mean either a) the series will exist in the same timeline as STB but some simply not cross over in any way or b) Star Trek is returning to the Prime timeline. There are good arguments for both scenarios.

Neu Trek on the Small Screen
Since 2009, Star Trek has been rebuilding its brand for a new generation of Trekkies, not only with new characters and actors, but with a completely new universe to boot. Paramount has been pushing to bring in younger fans, and CBS’s decision to air Star Trek exclusively online is one way they are marketing to millennials and younger. It’s hard to imagine that CBS would want to loose any momentum built up from the hip and modernized soon-to-be trilogy. With Alex Kurtzman attached to produce the new show, it makes a neuTrek series seem all the more plausible.

Making It Star Trek Again
That’s not to say, however, that CBS is locked into the Paramount-created JJ Trek. Quite the contrary. The schism that has existed between CBS and Paramount since they were split apart in 2006 looms large here. As had been reported in many other places, CBS owns the trademark and copyright to the franchise and has complete control over the television catalog and any new television production. Paramount licenses Star Trek from CBS and only has control over the feature film catalog and any new film production. Essentially, Star Trek is owned by two companies, and those companies have their own ideas about what to do with it.

CBS still makes a great deal of money from merchandising the original timeline, and is probably not anxious to wipe it all out in favor of something entirely new. That’s completely valid, of course, as is the fact that the reboot appears to be the property of Paramount (and perhaps Bad Robot), and would probably require some kind of deal in order for CBS to get the right to use the alternate timeline for the new show.

It may be more complicated (or more simple) than that; it’s hard to tell. From the outside, the rights issues can be very confusing.

Smart Business
Regardless of the platform it plays on, relaunching Star Trek is a no-brainer. A successful Star Trek show fills CBS’s coffers in myriad ways. Besides increased subscription fees for All Access, CBS stands to do very well by licensing the show for every kind of product you can imagine. The ability to generate revenue that’s ancillary to the show itself is a dream for any studio or network, and Star Trek has historically been a licensing cash machine for CBS and Paramount, making the notion of launching a new show even more appealing. So, expect to see a flood of merchandise coming your way.

A Last Word
For those of you worried that CBS doesn’t have the right people running the show or are concerned about budget, there is something important to keep in mind: CBS wants this service to succeed. It doesn’t want to damage the Star Trek brand, and, above all, it wants to make us fans as happy as possible so that we keep coming back month after month, not just for Trek, but for the rest of CBS’s show business empire. They want the fans to be excited about the new show and the future that lies ahead. So before we start to worry, how about we give Trek a chance?



Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Deja Vu

I’m not sure I’ll pay. I’m already paying for cable and internet. Not sure I want to pay extra. It’s a small price, but those small prices can add up. I’ll make up my mind when CBS airs the first episode.

When an artistic property is valued more for the money it brings in then the art it creates there will be problems. CBS has been guilty of this (as has Paramount) So the entire “A Last Word” paragraph comes off a bit misguided. Mistakes have been made before and will be made again.

Not mentioned here: the people (like me) who still subscribe to a cable service. For those people, the extra cost of streaming services like CBS All Access is especially burdensome. I pay $200 per month for internet/TV/phone as a package (includes HBO, Showtime, etc.) and that’s quite enough. I’m hoping CBS sees fit to put the new Star Trek series on Showtime as well.

Simon Jessey – Excellent point. On top of a cable sub, the All Access fee seems quite annoying. I’d imagine a lot of people are in your position. My question, though, why stay with $200/mo cable, when you can get the same shows (and on demand to boot) by subscribing to all of the same channels a la carte? This link (also in the article above) does a great job of showing you just how much you’ll pay to sub to all of your shows over the internet rather than over cable: http://www.theverge.com/a/online-tv-stream-price-guide

I’m interested in why a lot of people have stayed with their cable providers rather than switching. Setup too burdensome? Use of streaming box (e.g. Roku or AppleTV) a barrier?

Not going to pay.

I guess I’ll wait for the DVDs. You know … for a show that I’ll never have seen (outside of the airs-on-CBS opening episode) at that time.

Oh wait. I forgot that “Star Trek” DVDs are never eventually offered at a low price after a few months….

I’ve given money to most of the fan productions so I’ll gladly pay the 6 bucks a month for the new series. For me, it’s a no-brainer.

I’ll wait for the blu ray release…

The problem for me is that CBS All-Access is, by its very nature, limited, and therefore, not of appropriate value to justify paying for it. It’ll be CBS shows only, and I don’t watch ANYTHING on CBS. I will not pay $6/mo just to watch ONE episode of a show every week. At best, I’d subscribe for one month at the end of every season so I could marathon the whole thing, then cancel. Not to mention that CBS All-Access will still make its viewers watch commercials! That is truly awful! I use the internet to get AWAY from ads, not see more!

CBS is being way too greedy here. They should have just partnered with Netflix, which already has all of Trek TV and most Trek movies, and been done with it.

When this show fails, and it will, CBS will blame low ratings for its failure, and that’s infuriating, because we all know it’s because their service isn’t worth the money.

I think you missed two important scenarios when it comes to the value proposition of Trek on CBS Access:
-The person who has a cable/satellite TV package because the stuff they want isn’t really available via cord cutting options (live sports, shows from certain channels), so they don’t want to get a new service for one new show and maybe the old Treks too.
-The person who wants to see the new Star Trek, but literally doesn’t care about the CBS back catalog aside from Trek and can get the new stuff from CBS anyway (via cable/satellite/digital antenna) if they want it.

In both cases, these people have zero incentive to pay $6 a month and every reason to pirate the show, because CBS Access’s price to value ratio is terrible. That said, there’s a simple solution to this.

CBS should offer a $3 a month Trek only tier, which is better value for the folks that just want Trek legally, but not the entire CBS catalog.

Kregano – A Trek-only tier sounds great to us, but it would totally miss the point of what CBS wants Trek to do. They are using it to get people to buy All Access. It’s like an anchor show for the platform. They figure, people will come for the new Star Trek show and stay for the rest of their content. I’m not saying they are right or wrong, but that is what they want Trek to do for their streaming service. So, unfortunately, offering a Trek-only option is not likely to happen.

I’m not sure that someone who only wants the new Trek and not the old Trek (and other CBS) catalogue will be necessarily driven to pirate. As for myself, I always try to pay for a show first, to get it legally first. The only time pirating becomes an option is when I have exhausted all others to get it legally and immediately after broadcast release. $6/month is about $1.50 per show, assuming 4 per month. $2/show assuming a three-show month. It’s really not that much.

I will agree on your first point — people who still have cable. You should be aware, though, that almost everything is now available cord-free. And for a helluva lot less than cable companies charge.

If they put it in the prime universe with some manner of “could have evolved from previous established design aesthetics” and stick it a decade after Nemesis then I’ll pay whatever price they want to see it. The Prime universe post-Nemesis still has a LOT of potential smart political commentary and chances for exploration and new worlds.

If they put it in a reboot universe and make it all glowy everything everywhere aesthetics then I’m out.

I already pay over CA$200/month for my cable, home phone, cell, internet services, and am a Netflix subscriber. I think that’s enough. Not paying for more services and definitely not subscribing to CBS.
The way I see it, CBS takes us for imbeciles and wants to use us and the Star Trek franchise as a way to advertise their service.
It’s a shame.
But that’s only my 2 cents.

I’ll gladly pay

I plan to wait for Blu-ray. I have a feeling a lot of fans will do the same. There’s no point in paying to watch it and then paying again to own it.

@Kayla: I am fully aware of what CBS *wants* CBS Access to be and why it’s using Star Trek as a carrot to get people to subscribe. The problem is that the scheme completely ignores market and consumer realities, especially when it comes to piracy. Lars Doucet explains it pretty clearly in this article:

If CBS insists on having to have all of the money instead of just settling for some of the money and screws the consumers in the process, then they shouldn’t be surprised when consumers refuse to play by their rules. It’s like they’re ignoring all the lessons of the past 10 years when it comes to this stuff.

@Kregano – I’m not sure this move is “screwing the consumers”. You may be surprised to learn that it is generally accepted that this is the way networks are going to go. Hulu, Netlfix, and others may suffer because of this switch, but from the networks’ perspectives, they are handing out their content to other providers when they could be offering them up along with their entire catalogue on their own service. Cable companies are going the way of the Dodo, and smart networks are figuring out NOW how to stay alive in tomorrow’s market. This article does a good job of explaining that idea: http://recode.net/2015/11/16/why-it-could-get-harder-to-watch-your-favorite-shows-on-hulu/

So, no, I don’t think CBS is simply ignoring market and consumer realities. On the contrary, they are trying to play one step ahead.

Star Trek: You Tube 😉

Piracy issues aside, I’ll pay for access.

Simple. Effective. And I’ll get all of star trek as part of the bargain.

“The person who has a cable/satellite TV package because the stuff they want isn’t really available via cord cutting options (live sports, shows from certain channels)”

*raises hand*

I also have cable because Comcast are already the monopoly cable internet provider in San Francisco. Also because I am a total media obsessive who watches easily over 500 TV episodes and/or movies a year and rarely re-watches anything! Apparently that’s still not enough, because we also pay for Netflix… a DVD-supported plan, because a bunch of stuff (extras??!) isn’t streamable…

The way the media dinosaurs continue to price and package and distribute the official stuff makes their stuff a very hard sell. But I want to support art I like, so I have for example bought Anime Blu-Rays even though I do not own a Blu-ray player! My dream world combines the ease of use of shared material with the convenience and legality and creator-rewarding properties of commercial material.

ObTrek : I am looking forward to the new Trek series, even if it is in a weird alternate continuity I don’t really feel is canon. Star Trek still has something to say about the future, though, I think? And TV show is the best vessel (groan) for it.

I thought CBS licensed Trek to Netflix till, like, the year 2100. Can they break that agreement?

There’snot enough other CBS programming worth my shelling out $6 in addition to what I’ll be paying for Netflix when I get back online.

Here’s hoping CBS doesn’t shoot Trek in the Family Jewels!
——————————— —————- —————-
6 Kayla, from what I’ve been reading over at Trekcore, folks in rural or low-population zones don’t get enough Internet bandwidth to stream anything much.

We in the broadband-dense areas of the country sometimes forget those who don’t have the same advantages. I know my phone plays videos like crap on 3G (the spinning Wheel of Death constantly pops up, freezing the screen), when my good ole “unlimited” 4G runs out.

6th incarnation. All copies of the animated show should be buried in the desert like those old E.T. Atari games.

I’ll gladly pay. And I’m one of “the ones you’re jealous of for getting to watch TOS during it’s original run.” I think I can figure out how to subscribe to All Access. No worries.

(picks up mouse) Hello, computer.

I’ll throw as much money at CBS as I have to too watch new Star Trek. Plus, being able to stream Colbert and Supergirl should make it worth it. I just hope there will be an All Access app for the Amazon Fire Stick by 2017. My Apple TV doesn’t work in my dorm, and I don’t want to go through all the minor effort of hooking my laptop up to my TV every week.

I wonder if they plan to release an entire season at once or drag it out over a few months, one week at a time.

I think one of the biggest down sides for me is that an all-in-one service like Netflix and Hulu have gotten their players on hundreds of different device types. While CBS All Access is only on a few device types.

I am looking forward to the new trek series. It won’t be the first time a new network has used a trek series to launch. Remember UPN was launched with Voyager as the big headline.

As a millennial who never purchased a cord to cut after leaving home I can safely say we will probably purchase CBS All Access as long as it is commercial free. This is the reason I jump at Netflix and Amazon new content, I know it will be commercial free. The only reasons I can see that would cause this series to fail are commercials and a fan base without bandwidth or with data caps.

@Brian Drew and Kayla Iacovino

I have to tip my hat here. This is a well-written, comprehensive article that seems to cover all of the bases of the limited press-release.

One issue that seems to have escaped my attention the first time around that you guys mention here is that this new show will only be available to people living in the US.

Why would CBS cut out the global market with an internet streaming service wherein international distribution costs would not seem to be a factor? It’s not like they’d have to ship the TV show across the ocean to other countries. And being that international sales would still take place in dollars and in the US—I mean, I’m assuming that’s how it would work…people in other countries would go to CBS.com, an American website, and pay the fee—It stands to reason that there must be other, less obvious costs to marketing this globally. Does anyone have any idea what they might be?

My problem with All Access is this:

People who cable cut expect to get the same thing people get on cable, but ala cart. But this is effectively giving cable cutters something that people on cable don’t get. So people with cable have to pay for cable AND pay for this. That’s just stupid. They’re effectively paying for CBS twice.

I may get it because I’m seriously considering cutting my cable and getting TV through internet anyway so the net may very well still be less, but I doubt I would both pay for cable and All Access.

And the fact that you pay for it and STILL gets ads is beyond ridiculous.

@22 Marja:

The streaming deals typically last two years at a time and are either renewed or allowed to lapse. The current CBS deal with Netflix (worth $100 million a year) was renewed for its third time earlier this year. It should expire in early 2017, right when this new show debuts.

This is such nonsense. Many of us cannot afford cable, so we use Netflix and Hulu. We can afford one or two services. Now, every freakin’ company is out to have their own streaming site and that adds up! It’s as bad as trying to pay for cable! I’m NOT purchasing it. I want to see a new Star Trek show, but, I can’t afford to rack up all these charges. It’s stupid. Put the show on the CBS for all to see.

I cut cable months ago, I use my Apple TV for Netflix, Shomi, Crackle, YouTube..and that is sufficient. No commercials, watch what I want, when I want, binge watch if I want and since I have unlimited high speed cable…I have NEVER had a buffering issue. FYI, Shomi is Rogers Cable’s version of Netflix..it has TNG AND TOS in HD remastered. Its a perfect complement to Netflix because it has many shows and movies Netflix does not, and vice versa. Both come to a total of about $16 a month. Dirt cheap.

Not sure how it will be distributed here in Canada, but if I only watch Star Trek on the CBS All Access (and no other show) I will gladly pay $6 for a month for it…roughly 4 episodes a month, means I am paying $1.50 per episode (if I’m only watching Star Trek)…..DIRT CHEAP!!!

And the older generations and baby boomers…well its time to adapt, time to change, learn and grow. My father of 67 years has been using an iPhone and iPad for 3 years, did not take him long to learn…he is loving living cable free and binge watching on Netflix. And yes to bring about streaming you have to force the shows off cable. Which is just another reason for companies to make people spend money. You don’t stream?…you can, but you have to buy a streaming box.

All that being said..and factoring in that I personally only stream…I think it might hurt Star Trek to only be on a streaming service. I would think it smart for Star Trek to continue on cable TV..only because streaming is not yet the dominant entertainment broadcasting method.

Also I am concerned over the fact that its Kurtzman. Another main concern is old universe or new universe. There is still so much of the time line to cover in the original universe…you could go, 20, 50, 100, 200 years in the future of the original universe and still make it fresh and new, with new tech and that harmonious mix of cerebral classic trek and badass NuTrek.

My argument for an original universe show is that Star Trek does not begin with Kirk and does not end with Picard. Enterprise shows us a pre Federation StarFleet, which I think is bloody awesome! It shows us, early deep space exploration, and it stayed true to the essence of Star Trek, it should have received a full 7 season which would have covered the Romulan War. Enterprise isn’t perfect but it is awesome and most importantly…satisfying. Now…with Star Trek not ending with Picard, we know what the Federation lasts until at most the 31st century (Daniels). There is Star Trek post Nemesis…THAT is what a new TV show should tackle. Maybe Starfleet has developed jump gates which ships can go through to travel to distant sections of the galaxy (Borg transwarp hub) or even other galaxies and then continue on exploring at warp from there. Majority of the galaxy is still unexplored by the end of Nemesis…..But yes…we know this is all the jibber jabber the executives to not care about.

If CBS owns the trademark and copyright and Paramount licences it from CBS, does that not mean that CBS technically owns Star Trek and is only allowing Paramount to borrow it? And if they wanted to could say NO to Paramount making movies? Or after the Viacom split Paramount received the movies? I do not understand much about the legalities surrounding it. Would Paramount own the Star Trek movies…well…because they basically made it? Does CBS have any licencing rights over the movies? I know JJ had a big argument with CBS about licensing to make a mega verse like Marvel with shows, and comics and TV shows.

The new Star Trek will make money for CBS outside of the US as well, as a normal TV show, hopefully broadcast in many more countries than the last few incarnations ever had access to. Then, there are video revenues, as well as whatever passes for syndication these days, when older episodes make their way to TV after having their run on “All Access.”

This will be great for the film series as well. The series name will be top-of-mind in new international markets, and the franchise should get a much-needed lift around the world, especially in markets where it was never really a factor.

I have no idea how I’m going to see it, because I don’t live in the US.

CBS All Access is not going to open for business in the UK or New Zealand. I suspect there will be a thicket of exclusive deals with already-existing streaming video on demand services which will just annoy people who subscribed to the “wrong” one (should an Australian have subscribed to Presto, Stan, or Fetch?) or, more likely, will be exclusive to common-or-garden cable, which defeats the purpose.

“I plan to wait for Blu-ray. I have a feeling a lot of fans will do the same. There’s no point in paying to watch it and then paying again to own it.”

Just curious if you’ve ever purchased a DVD/BR movie after first paying to see it in theaters?

Count: 17. kregano – November 16, 2015

If CBS insists on having to have all of the money instead of just settling for some of the money and screws the consumers in the process, then they shouldn’t be surprised when consumers refuse to play by their rules. It’s like they’re ignoring all the lessons of the past 10 years when it comes to this stuff.

Pointercount 19. Kayla Iacovino – November 16, 2015

So, no, I don’t think CBS is simply ignoring market and consumer realities. On the contrary, they are trying to play one step ahead.

Another point worth mentioning here is that Hulu’s business strategy was to start off as a free service in order to build brand awareness and a customer base before introducing a fee for their service. CBS All Access is jumping right to the proposal of charging prospective customers a monthly fee for a service that they’ve never used and aren’t familiar with. So, there’s no brand loyalty or habitual use redounding to CBS with their strategy (I’m assuming, given the strategy as described, that there are at present relatively few All Access subscribers). It’s much easier for people who’ve never used CBS All Access to continue not using CBS All Access because the $6/month with ads fee acts as a barrier to consumption.

To be perfectly candid, the idea of paying to watch commercials is so off-putting to me—both as a practical matter and as an ethical matter—that I’m not likely to do it. In Lars Doucet’s Four Currencies model (thanks for that neat link, btw), the $P+ $T +$I costs for me of paying to watch CBS’s advertisements weigh down the “Legit” side of the scale more than the “Piracy” side. And, “if” (as Les Moonves hedged) CBS decides to offer an ad-free subscription, it’s going to cost…what…$12 or so?

So, that’s twelve bucks a month for one show—a show that I’m already dubious about, given the man whose been put in charge of it—on top of everything else that I’m paying each month. And, I’m afraid that access to CBS’s other thought-provoking dramas, like Hawaii Five-O and Scorpion (that’s the one that’s like the A-Team but with nerds, right?) ain’t going to sweeten the offer enough to sell me.

Basically, for a some portion of us, CBS has raised the bar for consumption of this new Trek show very high. Only if this show turns out amazingly good straight off the bat are the likes of me going to pay the high cost to see it. And, if the show takes one or two seasons (as did previous Trek series) to hit its stride, is CBS going to nurture the fledgling Trek show, faithfully investing in new episodes and new seasons through the interim of low subscription rates until it turns the corner?

I’m inclined to side with kregano on the perils of CBS’s business strategy here. I guess the standard rebuttal would be that Les Moonves is a business genius. But, that doesn’t mean that the new Trek show is going to clear the bar where he as set it. CBS shows fail all the time. Matador, yet another Kurtzman/Orci TV show (you really can’t throw a rock without hitting one), was cancelled after one season. So, Moonves’s business genius might simply be to know when to cancel the new failed Trek show and replace it with a better draw for his greater All Access strategy. Like maybe two or three shows which don’t have to be so good individually, but which will collectively meet his subscription goals.

P.S. A case-in-point—for me, anyway—is what has become of South Park on Hulu and my reaction to it.

South Park used to be a fantastically clever and entertaining show which peaked in Season 10. The other side of the hill has seen good episodes of South Park, but on the whole, from around Season 12 onward the quality of South Park has substantially declined. I still kept watching new episodes of South Park when they were streaming at South Park’s website for free, without ads or with just a few ads per show.

But, recently, South Park became licensed and administrated online by Hulu, and the number of ads per show skyrocketed. I mean, there are so many ads in streaming South Park now that it has become unwatchable for me. Literally three times have I gone to watch a recent episode of South Park at their site and been so turned off by the number and length of ads before the show even begins that I have gotten fed up and closed the window without seeing a moment of the actual show.

If South Park were still in its Season 10 heyday, where every episode was an instant classic, then I’d suffer the nuisance and irritation of the endless, mind-numbing ads before and during the show. But, South Park isn’t worth that cost in terms of time ($T) and pain-in-the-ass ($P) any more. So, the result is that this former South Park fanatic simply doesn’t bother with the show any more and has no shortage of other, better entertainment to fill the slot where South Park used to reside in my life.

And that was for a show that I didn’t have to pay a subscription to watch. Add a monthly fee into that equation, and I’m even less likely to watch the new Trek series unless it’s amazingly good right off the bat. There will be no sitting loyally through stinker episodes of the variety that TNG’s first season or VOYAGER’s initial (four?…all?) seasons regularly offered up, for this Trekkie. Not if I have to pay cash PLUS watch ads for it.

@Brian Drew and Kayla Iacovino

A Last Word – For those of you worried that CBS doesn’t have the right people running the show or are concerned about budget, there is something important to keep in mind: CBS wants this service to succeed. It doesn’t want to damage the Star Trek brand, and, above all, it wants to make us fans as happy as possible so that we keep coming back month after month, not just for Trek, but for the rest of CBS’s show business empire. They want the fans to be excited about the new show and the future that lies ahead. So before we start to worry, how about we give Trek a chance?

Respectfully, Paramount has shown without a doubt that they don’t care a whit about making us fans as happy possible. They have shown this by (a) instructing JJ Abrams to repeatedly state in press interviews that ST09 and STID were “not made for Trek fans.” That’s not something that you say if your goal is to make the fans happy. Clearly Paramount was throwing the fans under the bus in favor of what it saw as a greater global market that (focus group results showed) was turned off by things “Trekkie.” And, (b) producing two nominally “Star Trek” movies that bear almost no (I’d say none) resemblance to the original series, the TOS movies or even to the most highly rated and most syndicated (still going strong) TOS spin-off series, TNG, apart from the names, likenesses and settings used. One can hardly gauge the fan reception to the BR Trek movies on the whole as happy appreciation. Some fans love them and some fans find them a travesty.

CBS isn’t Paramount. That’s true, but by hiring one of the two main writers responsible for the most problematic component of the BR Trek movies—even many people who like the BR Trek movies agree that the scriptwriting is their weakest link, at the very least with regard to STID if not also to ST09; and further, veteran Trek writers David Gerrold and Nick Meyer have publicly criticized the scriptwriting in both of the BR Trek movies, which is an exceedingly rare occurrence for Hollywood writers—CBS seems like it might be doubling down on Paramount’s strategy for Trek. At least, that’s how it comes across to people like me who don’t appreciate what Paramount has turned Trek into with the BR movies.

Maybe Kurtzman will not be all that creatively involved with the Trek series that he’s in charge of. Or, maybe Kurtzman will produce a Trek TV show that is fundamentally unlike any of his previous (and numerous) TV shows or his two Trek movies. In other words, maybe Kurtzman will produce a Trek show that is fundamentally un-Kurtzman-like. Such outcomes are possible, but I’ll just say that there’s no shortage of reasons for skepticism at this point and leave it at that.

3. Yob Benami – November 16, 2015

When an artistic property is valued more for the money it brings in then the art it creates there will be problems. CBS has been guilty of this (as has Paramount) So the entire “A Last Word” paragraph comes off a bit misguided. Mistakes have been made before and will be made again.

I totally agree. CBS isn’t the visionary creator of Star Trek whose motives for the show had a substantial and meaningful ideological component counterpoint to the inevitable economic motivation.

CBS is just a soulless amoral (by definition) publicly traded corporation whose first priority is (by fiduciary obligation) to its shareholders. If there’s to be an idealistic-art motive in this new Trek series, it would have to reside with the head producer of the series. But, the head producer of the series is Alex Kurtzman, a writer known in the industry specifically not for his artistic idealism but rather for his willingness to deliver what his clients order up.

The point being, as of now, there’s no artistic counterbalance to the purely financial motives of CBS.

Well, first of all: I am very excited about a new show.
But then: how will they handle the new Star Trek Series in Europe? I was born and raised in Germany and they showed all series on TV. But now I am living in Denmark and they….well, let’s say they were never THAT interested in the shows. And on the Danish Netflix you get only the reboot -movies and TOS.

So my question is how will they handle it over here in the old world?

I may look forward to the new “Star Trek” series’ special preview episode on the CBS network in 2017 with the intent to wait for the series to be available on DVD, Blu-ray, and Digital HD. Yet, I wish someone would start a petition for CBS to air the new “Star Trek” series, not just stream it on CBS All Access. Yet, the new series may air on selected TV networks outside of the United States (i.e. Sky One in the United Kingdom, etc.).

I don’t think CBS really wants anything to do with the web; the market is dictating this. They would be perfectly happy peddling their wares the way they always have, but they realize times are changing and are trying to make the transition to a new era as painless as possible. This is an experiment for them. It may not work, but they’d be foolish not to give it a try.

It’s a very strange time and a lot of things still have to shake themselves out before we know what the future of TV will really look like.

@31 I agree.

I was so happy to learn about a new Star Trek Show and then I read “exclusively available in the US at CBS All Access”. I don’t know, if the show will be available at all on TV in Germany so I guess I don’t have a choice but to wait for the DVD or Bluray…

Cygnus –

I understand your reservations, but I stand by what we wrote. The only way this online gambit works for CBS is if they give the fans something they can’t live without. While they may push the envelope a bit (hopefully in a good way) I don’t think they have any interest in alienating a fan base they clearly need in order to make this whole endeavor work.

The news of the new ST on television has left me feeling more dispondent than curious or excited and wondering what flavour of ST is going to come down the chute this time. Im also surprised that any one would think that this is exciting news considering the past 15 years of ST on TV and movies.

Get back to me when you have something to show me and keep in mind that I probably wont be interested in what you have done anyway ( 3 minutes of laughing) and you expect me to pay to watch television, have you gone mad?.

After all the dry cleaning bills for cleaning up all that paid advertising you keep vomiting up on me. You forget I have the internet all you have is the hope I wont use it to watch whatever the hell I want, because we all know it all ends up on the internet in the end and my only cost is in what I download.

What about international markets? Will CBS sell it to other overseas subsrcription services? They’ll be absolutely crazy not to. Stan or Presto will hopefully pick it up here in Australia. But back in the day Trek never rated well here so was either religated to graveyard hours or just not shown. Except this time around no one’s going to wait till DVD / Blueray releases.
So your call CBS, Sell to overseas markets promptly or yo ho ho and a bottle of rum it’s a pirates life for me!

Rest assure…it’ll be set in the original timeline! In case you haven’t noticed: 2015 spelled gloom and doom for all sorts of reboots (F4, Terminator, Poltergeist, Pan etc) but total success for faithful, straight-forward sequels, even if those franchises had some weaker links in their sequence of previous sequels / prequels…

Just look at some of this year’s biggest movies: Jurassic World, Fast’n’Furious 7, Ultron, MI:5 Rogue Nation, Mad Max:Fury Road…and probably SW:TFA… all of them sequels to arguably ancient franchises, all of them were heavily based on nostalgia, and MOST OF THEM had to make people forget about one or more failures without pressing the reset button… JW had it’s JP3, F’n’F had Tokyo Drift, MI:5 had its MI:III and Star Wars will have to start over despite the much maligned prequels (though I like them)…

So, you see, as of 2015, franchises are reborn WITHOUT pressing the reboot button. There is no way market analysts will be able to ignore that development.
With most reboots having failed over the last decade, the entire idea of rebooting franchises is so “aughties”… nothing good came from it: Robocop, Judge Dredd, Total Recall, Nightmare on Elm Street… all of them pointless failures that didn’t spawn any fresh franchise…

Even the successful reboots have either been abandoned (Batman) or are slowly redesigned to look and feel like the original again (007 and probably NuTrek)…
A couple of years ago they were planning an Indie reboot…now they’re discussing Indiana Jones 5 with Harrison Ford! And you bet that Alien: Covenant only came to be as a full prequel to the Alien saga after Fox had finally realized the quasi-reboot Promotheus was a mistake for its lack of continuity and nostalgia…

The only studio st*pid enough to reboot is WB with its DCEU and they shall pay a very very high price…mark my words!

No, Trek is safe… it’ll be a 25th century, intergalactic follow-up to NextGen…set within the good old Trek continuity… The JJverse is just a pocket outside the original timeline, a sort of mirror universe that won’t matter anymore after the reboots are done…

Franchise building has returned to “continuous mode”… the rebooters had their day and those days are over…

I then there’s the percentage of the population that doesn’t have access to high speed internet. It simply doesn’t exist where I live.

Guess I’ll have to wait for DVD’s.

@Brian Drew and Kayla Iacovino,

We don’t have CBS All Access here in Canada, any ideas how the new Trek series will be broadcasted/streamed outside the United States?

I’ll wait for the DVDs at the library. Sure, I’ll get to see it two years later and probably read the plot on wikipedia first. but —– yeah, lump me in with everyone else that says “I’m not going to pay for it” and then pay for it anyways because it is Star Trek and I have to watch it! Is it 2017 yet?

I’d happily pay. I do not have cable, just antenna. I like the idea of All Access with no commercials and since the program won’t be on the air, it might free up the producers to do some stories that could never make it past TV network censors.

All this whining over the price of less than a visit to the theater. Sounds great to me! It might also mean binge viewing. LoL!

I think this is a good move on CBS’s part.

Instead of 5.99/month can I pay 9.99/month to have CBS AllAccess *without* commercials? I really hate the unskippable commercials. Ad-free Hulu has spoiled me.