EDITORIAL: CBS All Access: The Good, The Ads, and The Over-Compressed

Since Star Trek: Discovery will be coming exclusively to CBS All Access in the United States, I decided to give the network’s new over-the-top streaming service a try. I’ve been using All Access for a good nine months now, and I’ve learned a thing or two about what the service gets right and where it leaves something to be desired.

UPDATE: (8/31/2016) CBS All Access has announced an ad-free option for $9.99/month!

My conclusion? All Access is probably a good thing for Star Trek, and there is no doubt that I would recommend you get it in order to watch Star Trek: Discovery. But the service itself currently has two major flaws: too many ads and less than stellar audio and video compression. Both of these things are easily fixable before Discovery‘s January 2017 premiere date (can we get #AdFreeOption trending?). But, for the moment, I’m envious of the 188 countries that will be watching new Trek on Netflix.


Many fans have been resistant to paying for a new subscription service right off the bat. We talked at length about what All Access means for the franchise last November after the new show was first announced. The move by CBS to create their own over-the-top (OTT) service may ultimately be a game changer for the major networks, but it certainly is a gamble in today’s cord-cutting marketplace, and CBS will have to make a lot of tough decisions about exactly how to maximize profits while making the service appealing in a sea of other, ostensibly more complete, streaming libraries like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu.

For the remainder of this essay, we ask whether or not All Access can succeed in the context of today’s market. Our analysis hinges on the thesis that consumers want to pay to legally obtain products and services. But, illegal streams and downloads are tempting, and customers will only fork out their hard earned qualtoos for a service that fits their needs.

Say what you want about the Napster generation, but they aren’t looking for handouts, and they don’t expect content for free. Pay What You Want models like the Humble Bundle and those employed by an increasing number of music artists have shown time and time again that people will pay for content – but they will only pay if they think the price is fair and the product meets their standard of quality.

How Does All Access Stand Up?

First, it’s important to put All Access into the proper context. How does it stack up to the other similar services that many of you may already subscribe to?

At $5.99/month, All Access certainly wins the day when it comes to cost. For basic cable in the US, you’re looking at a minimum $66/month bill (and often customers pay over $100/month). Even if you subscribe to all the major streaming services like Netflix ($8.99), Hulu ($7.99/month or $11.99/month ad-free), and Amazon Prime ($8.25/month), you’re still doing better than cable at around $30/month, less than half of the lowest possible cable bill.

All Access Netflix Hulu Plus Amazon Prime Cable TV
$5.99/month $8.99/month $7.99/month with ads or $11.99/month ad-free $8.25/month ($99/year) $25–$130/month

With one month of All Access clocking in around the price of a cup of coffee, it’s hard to fret about adding it to your monthly bill. But more than cost is driving customers to OTT offerings.

Give us an #AdFreeOption

It’s understood that advertisements were once the only way to pay for our beloved television franchises (and YouTube videos and the like), and so the quality of shows were allowed to suffer somewhat in order to monetize them. But, the advent of the paid subscription service has made that a thing of the past.

With this new pay to play model, content providers do not need to rely so heavily on advertisement revenue. For consumers this means truly minimal ad breaks or even none at all, and for the creatives behind the scenes, this means the opportunity to create longer, more rich stories whose narratives are not constantly interrupted by loud, obtrusive commercials.

Which brings us to our first point of contention with All Access: no ad-free option.

Hulu offers up a higher tier with no ads for an extra $4/month. Without an ad-free option for All Access, it kind of feels like we’re paying for the show twice, despite the service’s small price tag.

It’s crucial to note exactly how many ad breaks we are talking here. In a recent announcement CBS Interactive President and COO Marc DeBevoise touted All Access’ “limited commercial load”, which in the minds of the CBS exec apparently translates to 75% of the normal broadcast TV load (or roughly 12 minutes of ads per hour of television, which is notably the maximum legal limit in the European Union and the UK).

This is hardly a “limited” ad load, and consumers are already taking notice. To content providers, the message is clear: don’t double dip. Either charge us or show us ads. Not both.

A message from All Access asking me to turn off my ad blocker

Many Ways to Watch

All Access is looking good when it comes to the quality and availability of the app itself.

The failure of the pay to play model due to inaccessibility is exemplified by HBO’s Game of Thrones, the most pirated show in history. Early in the show’s run, this was thought to be largely due to the inability to purchase the show without a cable subscription. HBO’s only streaming service at the time, HBO GO, was only available to customers that already had cable. The launch of HBO NOW, which does not require a cable sub, somewhat alleviated this problem, but the service is so tied to Apple products like Apple TV and iPad that non-Apple users continued to shun the paid service, thus allowing Thrones to keep the top spot on the illegal downloads charts.

All Access is happily cross-platform and is available as a mobile app, on Roku, Chromecast, Apple TV, Fire TV, Xbox 360, and Android TV. There is no limit to the number of devices that can be connected to one account, and up to two simultaneous viewers can be using the service at any one point in time.


An Expectation of Quality

Stream quality is a very important place where CBS All Access sometimes falls short. This could certainly change before the January 2017 debut of Star Trek: Discovery, but at the moment, the quality of both the audio and video is less than perfect.

I don’t have cable, but CBS over-the-air comes in rather nicely in my apartment via an antenna. I went ahead and compared the All Access stream of CBS’s (now CW’s) Supergirl to the episode I had recorded on my HD TiVo side by side.

The first striking thing was the fact that the All Access stream appears to be the over-the-air stream simply ported to my Apple TV app. It was identical for content and timing, right down to the ads. More importantly, though, was the fact that the quality of the video and sound on my TiVo was noticeably better than the All Access stream. Add to that the fact that I can fast forward through ads on the TiVo, and I have very little reason to watch Supergirl on All Access. Unfortunately, we won’t have that option with Star Trek.

To be fair, I make this judgement under a quite critical eye. I am particularly sensitive to pixelated or fuzzy video and staticy audio. On the other hand, if this is my only way to watch the new Star Trek show (and considering I am paying for the service via monthly subscription and by watching lots and lots of ads), I expect nothing but the best quality.

CBS may be up to the challenge of getting their compression up to scratch, however. The network got a trial run of the their new platform when they streamed the 2016 Grammys via All Access back in February. CBS reported an record number of viewers and new All Access users citing a 247% increase in time spent watching and an upswing of 192% more unique users compared to the 2015 Grammys. CBS’s servers were apparently overwhelmed by the influx of traffic, however, leaving a small number would-be viewers only to stare frustratedly at screens telling them that their new app was “Unable to show live TV content at this time.” Others who were able to watch reported shoddy or “glitchy” stream quality, apparently also due to the high traffic load.

CBS blamed the live steam problems on a glitch in All Access’ ability to verify the locations of some users and ended up fixing the issues for most subscribers before the show was over, which is a testament to CBS’s ability to react quickly to solve the problem. It also tells me that they are aware of a number of challenges that they face in getting All Access to work just right come January and gives me hope that the streaming quality will be top notch in time for Trek.

All Access: Not Truly ALL Access?

Possibly the most alarming thing that I discovered during my trial of All Access is the fact that, despite CBS advertising the “complete catalogs” of your favorite shows, I found this not to be the case for some currently airing series.

Take Supergirl for example: since the show’s move from its original home on CBS to the CW, the first season of Supergirl is no where to be found on All Access despite it being there a few months ago. And during the first season’s run, only a handful of episodes were available at any given time. Meaning, if someone was to purchase an All Access sub near the end of a show’s season, they would not be able to go and watch that season from the beginning. In fact, for shows currently mid-season, I’m not sure there would be any legal way to do that.

This seems to be true of many (but not all) of CBS’s hit shows including Two Broke Girls (episodes from Season 5, Episode 10 available at the time of writing), The Big Bang Theory (from Season 9, Episode 12), and Elementary (from Season 4, Episode 1). Mysteriously, some shows such as Blue Bloods and The Amazing Race offer up their entire catalog.

The explanation for this might be that Supergirl, The Big Bang Theory, and Two Broke Girls (among other All Access programming that shares the same limited catalog fate) are all owned by Warner Bros. and only distributed by CBS. But what of Elementary, which is produced by CBS Television Studios?

Now, it’s not clear that this restricted catalog model will be applied to Star Trek: Discovery, and in all honesty, we don’t think it will. But the possibility is enough to make one a bit nervous, and it does make me feel a bit taken for a ride when one of All Access’ biggest selling points is the ability to watch all of CBS’s shows on demand.

Why Streaming May Be Better For the Franchise

Love it or hate it, networks pushing their own OTT streaming services may be the way of the future, and distributing Star Trek: Discovery on All Access could end up shaping the new show in many positive tangible ways.

For one thing, the fate of Discovery won’t hinge so heavily on its performance, which is typically driven entirely by ad revenue. In fact, CBS CEO Les Moonves told reporters last month that Discovery is guaranteed to be profitable, in large part due to international revenue via the deal struck with Netflix, saying:

“We’ve licensed our ‘Star Trek’ franchise in the international marketplace, guaranteeing our new series will be profitable even before it launches and begins driving [subscriptions] here in the US on CBS All Access.”

Another interesting twist for Trek is that being an exclusively streaming show, Discovery will not have to conform to typical broadcast standards and practices, which includes language, sex, and violence. As showrunner Bryan Fuller jokingly explained at the TCA Summer Press Tour last week:

“There’s a reason why we call it ‘STD.’ It’s still Star Trek, and we’re not subject to broadcast standards and practices. Hannibal was, and we got away with murder. There will be slightly more graphic content.”

Besides some bonus sex, drugs, and rock and roll, this may also spell out more relaxed restrictions in general for the content creators behind the new series. While CBS is still running the show, they don’t have to appease the censors to the same degree and so may be more forgiving when it comes to content – and even characters – typically considered too racy for Prime Time.

Your Guide to Watching Star Trek: Discovery

How do different content providers stack up?

Consumers may not have a choice in how they watch Star Trek: Discovery. In the US, your only option is All Access. In Canada, you’ll be getting your Trek fix via Bell Media’s cable networks Space (in English) and Z (in French) plus their ad-free VOD service CraveTV. And, much to the chagrin of the North Americans, 188 other countries including the UK and Europe will be watching Discovery on Netflix, again with no ads.

Below we compare the four ways viewers around the world will be tuning in to watch Star Trek: Discovery.


All Access CraveTV Cable TV Netflix
US Canada Canada 188 Countries
$5.99/month $7.99/month $25–$130/month $8.99/month
12 minutes of ads No ads 15 minutes of ads No ads
Mobile app, Browser, Roku, Chromecast, Apple TV, Fire TV, Xbox 360, Android TV Mobile app, Browser, Apple TV, Xbox One, Samsung Smart TVs and Blu-ray Players Television Mobile app, Browser, Roku, Chromecast, Apple TV, Fire TV, nexus player, Nvidia Shield, Nintendo 3DS, PS Vita, PS3, PS4, Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One, some set top boxes, some Smart TVs, some Blu-ray players
Up to 1080 HD streaming available* Up to 1080 HD streaming available* Variable stream quality Up to 1080 HD streaming available*
Highly variable audio and video compression quality Variable audio and video compression quality Variable compression quality Good audio and video compression quality
Ad-free Star Trek (pre-DSC) library Ad-free Star Trek (pre-DSC) library No library Ad-free Star Trek (pre-DSC) library

*Netflix, All Access, and CraveTV will all offer 1080p resolution streams of Star Trek Discovery, but all three services note that the actual quality will depend on the user’s internet connection. In addition, the quality of your sound and picture will depend on the compression used at the source, which as we’ve seen is somewhat lacking from All Access.

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I’ve got absolutely no problem paying $6 a month (or more) for new Trek. I do have a problem with paying for a new service and then have to sit through 12 minutes of commercials per hour show. That’s a load of crap!

I agree…I am having a really hard time wanting to subscribe to CBS All Access. I am a partial cord-cutter, I have only 1 cable box with basic service package…and Roku devices for all my other rooms’ tvs, and have Netflix, Hulu, Amazon subscriptions (and still making out ahead from my previous cable packages). However, there are a few shows on CBS that I watch religiously…like all the NCIS’s and Big Bang Theory…the problem is with CBS All Access is that I have heard that one CANNOT get all the previous full seasons episodes of these shows…which is a put-off. Now CBS is going to have ALL 4 Star Trek series back for viewing on CBS ALL Access… Ok not a big deal, because I can see Every Episode of All 4 trek series on Netflix and/or Amazon!
Knowing that the new Star Trek series is coming to CBS All Access…and having to deal with an overabundance of “ad-mercials” (ads and commercials) than normal is really a turn off.

If CBS was to cut down on the ad-mericals, and truly offer “EVERY” episode of every season of shows…THEN – it might be worth subscribing. BUT, until then…I see no benefit from my perspective in signing up when I can watch it later on from somewhere else like sharingseries.com for FREE.

Simple solution to this; don’t subscribe, and hope nobody else on your side of the world don’t either. If enough people do not subscribe then CBS will not be earning any profit in the US. On the flipside, those in the UK and elsewhere need to be grateful that we have it on a quality provider; Netflix. Support it and convince CBS that the US should go the same route or similar.

Personally though I think I will wait for a hopeful Bluray release in the Autumn 2017 and watch it then. I’m in the UK.

It is very much looking like I will be going that route as well. Hope the S1 BD’s will come out and be made available to rental agencies like Netflix.

I want to see this show, seriously. But, like the writer, I absolutely loathe dodgy streaming digital experiences. Scratchy sound, noisy or pixelated video, buffering… It’s the reason I don’t use streams. Add to that the problem with slow speeds on most broadband, and the high visibility of this show- and it’s not going to be pretty.

I am really glad that this article was written- I’m going to share it far and wide. Maybe someone at CBS will see it, and maybe do some wrench-bending where it’s needed. Star Trek deserves the best. I hope there will be some followup, and if CBS gives some feedback, it’ll be reported here. Right now, I am not planning to subscribe to the stream- I refuse to pay for ads. Maybe they’ll rethink that, too.

“Star Trek deserves the best”

But it rarely gets it. Far too often, we get the least Paramount/CBS can possibly do. Lazy video transfers to DVD, same old DVD/Blu-Rays just in a new package with a different cover… I seriously doubt they’ll do anything about the compression quality until enough people complain about it, which will probably be too late for Season 1 of DSC. Until then, CBS execs will see dollar signs and say “those Trekkies will pay whatever we ask” and ignore the problems.

That seems a bit unfair. They remastered TOS and TNG at considerable expense. We have the great remastered Wrath of Khan which they quickly issued replacements for when the Sulu error was discovered. TAS blus on the way. All Trek episodes available on multiple streaming services. No, they’re not perfect, but they’ve done a good job.

Mawazi… No, it’s not unfair. The original release of TOS on DVD was an ridiculous 2 episodes per disc at $20 each, typical Paramount price-gouging of Star Trek fans. And when they did remaster TOS, originally on the now-defunct HD-DVD format, they charged $195 per season (although you could find it for $140 or so.) The Blu-Ray re-release was cheaper, around $80. And the quality of TNG on DVD was mediocre at best, terrible at worst for ten years until they decided to remaster them. DS9 and VOY are still low-quality transfers and there is little chance of improved quality sets any year soon. The new TWOK Blu-Ray is nice, Sulu glitch notwithstanding, but remember that they previously didn’t bother putting the Director’s Edition on Blu-Ray, and the original theatrical Blu-Ray had, shall we say “color issues”? And this TWOK release appears to be the grand total of what Paramount is doing for Star Trek’s 50th Anniversary, other than another repackaging effort. Compare this to the recent James Bond 50th anniversary celebration, and this comes off as lackluster at best. As I said, Paramount/CBS do the least they can get away with and charge as much for it as they can get away with.

That’s unlikely to change.

Thorny Today 1:52 pm

“Star Trek deserves the best” But it rarely gets it.

This is definitely true with regard to Paramount’s treatment of the franchise—to them Trek is a B-movie franchise, and will never be anything more. Though we haven’t yet seen much evidence of how CBS regards Trek, this being their first production of a Trek show. DSC will be the proving ground.

@ Cygnus-X1 – 185 mil. is a ‘B-movie’ budget? Really?

Anthony Thompson

I believe Cygnus-X1 is using the term in its original incarnation which refers to the the one feature of a double-bill that the studio deemed unworthy of esteem, i.e. they weren’t going to expend any funds promoting it for an academy award. And while its budget may not have been as much as the lead feature, “B movie” didn’t come to stand for “budget” with its the cheapest film possible to be made connotation, until much later, i.e. the “B” originally represented “budget” promotion and NOT cheapest possible production per se.

STAR TREK, as it existed before Paramount took over its third TV season ever, was a property that managed to solicit a WGA winning script. There are those such as myself and Cygnus-X1 who contend it has ever since deserved the soliciting of scripts of such quality caliber and better.

Paramount, no matter what itself morphed into over the years, has never actually regarded the promotion of a STAR TREK MOVIE as worthy of anything beyond that of “budget”. And with such regard, clearly indicate they don’t believe its scripts worthy of “arthouse” considerations with their additional promotional expense.

No, when Brad Grey took over he discovered HUSTLE AND FLOW and overpaid, over promoted, and over promised on that, so kissed Paramount’s Vantage, goodbye.

Anthony Thompson,

Re: B-movie

I should be clearer that the “B” originally referred to the B picture with the A picture being the one of esteem and the B lesser so, and those assignations determined the promotional budget with the B picture getting the “budget” promotion.

Yes, what Disinvited said.

B-movie is a reference to the quality of the movie overall, not to its budget.

Wouldn’t you love to see a Trek movie produced with as much love, care and reverence as a movie like INTERSTELLAR? And this is actually not a rhetorical question, as I’ve seen people at this very site remark that they don’t want Star Trek movies to be any better than they are. Some people actually prefer for Star Trek movies to remain low-grade, in terms of the writing and vision. Such people actually don’t want a visionary director, like a Chris Nolan, to do a Trek movie. I don’t understand why anyone would feel that way, but I’ve seen it said here by more than one person.

Good article, thanks. I cut the cord long ago, and already pay for Netflix, Hulu, HBO NOW, Showtime Anytime and Amazon Prime. Very happy with all of them, don’t miss cable, and I save over $100 a month.

That said, I’m going to give CBS a pass. This smacks of greed and hubris, and I’m done getting nickel-and-dimed. AND performance issues? AND ads? No way. Actually, when I heard most of the rest of the world is going to be getting it through Netflix and the U.S. has to pay extra, I pretty much made my decision then. This isn’t about money for me, it’s about being taken advantage of. I’m a Trek fan, but not a gullible one.

I’ll read reviews of the show here and if it sounds like compelling Trek, will purchase Season One when it comes out on disc. Honestly, reading the premise(s), I’m not sold this is going to be a great show.

There’s a veritable ton of fine programming out there now to pick from. I think CBS, in it’s greed, is making a mistake.


“This isn’t about money for me, it’s about being taken advantage of. I’m a Trek fan, but not a gullible one.”

This isn’t about money for me, either. For me, it’s the delivery system. I have yet to see a good stream of ANYTHING. NBC was streaming Olympic events live. I was forced to use it from time to time because of NBC’s refusal to actually AIR events live. And I STILL got freezes and whatnot. That will undoubtedly happen if I were to buy their streaming service. The technology they are relying on is unreliable. And it is why I do not stream unless I am not paying for it and there is no other option.

If CBS made this available on disc even as it was available on line, I would pay twice what they are charging for the stream. Just to have the superior quality and no ads.

“NBC: America’s Network”, By Michele Hilmes, Michael Lowell Henry, p 218:


‘’According to an NBC booklet issued in August 1967, twenty-nine thousand pieces of fan mail were received in the first season — only THE MONKEES drew more fan response. This booklet described the TREK audience as “decision makers,” people who would be attractive to potential sponsors’‘

Need for them to add Sony PS3/PS4 support for CBS All Access. Any indication on when that might be coming?

Why does DIS not air in China?

Do you think Discovery will eventually be available on iTunes? Some Netflix original series show up there after a few months. Plus some shows that have “exclusive streaming deals” with Amazon are there anyway.

My guess is iTunes won’t get it until the DVD/Blu-Ray release is imminent, shortly before the beginning of Season 2.

What I am hoping is that in addition to this, that we can purchase the season on Amazon or iTunes and have the episode available 1 day after All Access. It would be more expensive than All Access for a single month, and cheaper as you are only purchasing the episodes instead of an annual subscription.
I would expect to purchase the season later anyway, so purchasing at the time of broadcast would work for me too.

So, I can *only* watch it on their platform? And their A/V playback sucks? And I have to sit through commercials? AND i have to pay for it too?


CBS needs give-in on ONE of these. If the A/V quality sucks and I have to watch commercials, make it free. If you want me to pay for it, then get rid of the ads. Like the writer said, double dipping. And to be honest, I think it’s a big load of b******t!

100% correct there. IF they have ads, then make it free. At the very least, make it available on a superior platform soon after it airs on CBSAA for those of us who are willing to pay for quality can get it. Why do we have to put up with crap streaming tech for this? I don’t want the show to continually freeze and buffer and misalign audio and video like everything else I have ever streamed.

Any word on whether a season pass option will be available via Google Play or Amazon? I’d rather do that. No ads, no need to remember to cancel my All Access subscription in the off-months.

That would seem to make CBS All Access irrelevant, so no.

Great points about the poor service being offered by CBS. Don’t forget that also with streaming incurres additional cost with bandwidth limitations which for me will force me to pass on the series. Major disappointment!

I would not pay for a subscription TV service that had adverts. I cannot believe they get away with it.

They don’t get away with it for everyone. I tried subscribing a few times to watch Stephen Colbert – because we are a streaming only household since cancelling DirecTV a few years back, but I couldn’t stand the commercials. I cancelled not because of the cost, but because of the ads. With a DVR you can FFWD through them at least. CBSAA did not let me do that. It was so obnoxious. As a result I watch zero CBS shows now unless you count Showtime (which they own) – which is Ad-Free for $10.99 a month.

1. There better be a PS4 app coming soon.
2. The quality better improve.
3. The sex better be kept to a minimum. I’d like to allow my kids (who are also Trek fans) to watch. Too much or too “hot” and not only will they not be watching, but I likely won’t as well.

CBS execs, take note…

So I’m guessing you don’t let them watch TOS because of all the times Kirk was hooking up with barely dressed alien ladies?

Sure, there were attractive women in TOS and Kirk was interested in them (and vice versa) but tell me about this ‘hooking up’ you saw in TOS?

I doubt the sex will be much “hotter” than what we got in Enterprise with T’Pol’s bare ass and the rubbing gel all over each other.

I like adult themes when they serve the story, language and violence and nudity etc. But for Star Trek I can see them keeping in mind the appeal it may have to kids and keep it rather PG.

TUP Today 9:58 am

I can’t say that I really mind the sexing up in ENT all that much, but the gel is a rather transparent device, and I don’t mean the color of the stuff. They don’t rub it on their faces and heads, which is a major oversight. And they obviously don’t strip down all the way and rub it on their genitals. But, maybe the clothing protects their nether regions, you might say. OK, but that same clothing also covers their torsos, legs and arms, and yet they feel the need to rub it on those parts. Obviously, the gel-rubbing is for our benefit and not the characters’. Still, it does provide a unique intimacy for the characters not present in any other Trek series or movies. And one can imagine NASA astronauts having their own intimate sorts of moments that the public is not privy to. So, I can defend it on those grounds, but just barely.

Kissing, Harley3k. One episode that implied more by showing boots being put on. A FAR cry from any kind of graphic or explicit scenes… or of any actual sex scenes, at all.

Incidentally, I would say the exact same thing as Numenosian. This isn’t sounding like Star Trek to me; Star Trek, I can watch with my family barring rare exception episodes that go too far. This sounds rather systematically incompatible with family viewing, rather than the ocassional single-episode abberation.

I’m 90% certain the CBS dude mentioned at TCA (on the day of Discovery’s panel), that the PS4 app was forthcoming.

Let me get something straight. Each one of you, to a person, universally thought PG-13 rated STAR TREK in the cinema was going to be something you would “like” to allow your kids to watch, and you can’t, for the life of you, imagine that there were other parents who were NOT of a like mind to you on this?

I definitely am not looking to watch Star Trek for too “hot” for TV moments. That’s what soaps are for. I don’t watch them either. Besides, every time Trek tried to get “sexy”, it was down right embarrassing. There is no need for romance in the plots unless it is a serious part of the plot, like alien influence.

the dogfaced boy,

I don’t know. This is probably TMI, BFWIW all those diaphanous costumes that the first series had all the non-ship personnel women and female embellished androids wear definitely had an effect my entry into puberty and the mini-skirts and on some transformed into micros on the ship personnel didn’t slow it down any either.

There were some less enlighten times of my youth when I could swear Kirk could just blow those Theiss designs right off with his pursed lips.

“Enjoy recent episodes of your favorite shows and classic CBS hits.” WHAT classic CBS hits?!? There might be one or two worth watching (Twilight Zone, Twin Peaks), but CBS is the worst of the major broadcast networks. If CBS’s catalogue (sans Star Trek) were enticing on its own merits, the company wouldn’t need to launch the service on the back of DSC (rather like UPN did with VOY). As far as I’m concerned, and I’m sure I’m not alone, if I subscribe to All Access — and my subscription is heavily contingent upon whether or not an ad-free version is made available — I’ll be subscribing for Star Trek and only for Star Trek. If every other CBS show instantly disappeared forever tomorrow, I wouldn’t even notice. So, let’s not kid anyone: the deal as it now stands is a $6 monthly fee for DSC with a sh*t-tonne of commercials.

“Raw deal, sucka.”

I think DIS would be a better abbreviation simply because it follows form with VOY and ENT. Also DSC has no vowel in it making it look clunkier.

Jeff August 19, 2016 7:26 pm

That’s a fair point.

Maybe they didn’t want to call the show DIS because of the slang word “dis.” They definitely don’t want the fans to feel dissed, though I’m feeling that way now with their double-dipping, commercials plus subscription fee.


Gee, tanks [ sic ].

I think I would explain it from Moonves pov:

While Paramount definitely has a plan to intentionally dis the fans both new and old in the marketing as they try to reinvent the STAR TREK brand there, abandoning its conventional fan oriented aesthetics and founding themes, Moonves/CBS is trying to cultivate the fans so intends on doing quite the opposite

Disinvited Today 9:52 am

Moonves/CBS is trying to cultivate the fans so intends on doing quite the opposite

Well, that’s what the likes of us are hoping for. We won’t know until we see the show.
But this double-dipping price scheme is a bad idea.


Re:this double-dipping price scheme is a bad idea

Indeed, but has been in place for the marketing of STAR TREK for which we purchase, since the first Home Video sales of it; it’s nothing new, still outrageous, but nothing new and definitely not a surprise.

I don’t watch shows I’ve already seen. I have no interest in past CBS episodes of anything. If I wanted to watch something, I would have already watched it. If I got all access, I would be getting it just for Trek. I guess I could wait until the whole season has aired and watch them all at once but I have no interest in paying for something with commercials in it.

If I’m waiting, I’ll just keep waiting. Eventually it will come out on Blu-ray, (If it’s any good, that is.)

Green Acres was a CBS show. As was Hawaii Five-0.

Anthony Thompson Today 8:00 am

Green Acres was a CBS show. As was Hawaii Five-0.

Uhh… And, you’re implying that those shows are a selling point for CBS All Access?

I don’t know that I could handle the excitement of watching those shows.

Absolutely agree on #AdFreeOption – I don’t care about paying – just refuse to sit through commercials – I haven’t done it since the invention of Tivo/DVR days. Charge me more, please! Or make it available on iTunes for purchase the next day.

It’s just like with televised sports. You’re actually better off living outside the home market.

Language, sex and violence. It’s hard for me to imagine Star Trek being better simply due to the inclusion of four-letter words, T&A, and graphic violence. I strongly suspect that most Trek fans have never missed those elements in Trek, and as such, I would strongly caution Bryan Fuller against relying too much on them. They’re certainly no substitute for strong writing, and we can cite the Alice Even underwear scene, as well as the Khan/violence scenes, in STID as examples of how getting sidetracked by such appeals can come across as cheap, desperate and even tasteless and low-brow. The biggest advantage of freedom from broadcast TV censorship is philosophical: DSC won’t have to avoid direct references to certain subjects, like religion, and words associated therewith, just to avoid offending certain people. Though, TNG managed some wonderfully effective indictments on religion (“Who Watches the Watchers”) without actually making direct reference to it. So, again to Mr. Fuller: the added freedom may be more of a curse than a blessing. Don’t rely too heavily on it.

comment image
“Cast off the shoes; follow the gourd!”

Thanks for the analysis of CBS All-Access, Kayla
One fundamental subject that you don’t address in depth is what content is on CBS All-Access? Are there libraries of old shows like on Netflix? Is there much (or anything) that people are going to want to watch other than Trek (all the series of which are on Netflix also). Is there a movie catalog on CBS All-Access?

Yes, lots of CBS and Paramount-produced TV shows going back to the ’50s. I Love Lucy, Twilight Zone, Perry Mason, Mission: Impossible, Hawaii Five-O (both versions), Brady Bunch, The Odd Couple (both versions), Taxi, Cheers, Family Ties, MacGyver, Frasier, Wings, JAG, the CSIs, the Criminal Minds, the NCISs, Medium, and of course the Star Treks.

As Thorny says, many classic TV series worth watching, through some of the most popular TV series on the air in the last two decades. But the movie question is interesting. CBS has starts a fledgling film studio, and may have some small catalogues they’ve picked up here and there, but nothing substantial. However, they already have deals in place with Showtime, so I imagine they’ve been negotiating them for distribution over streaming products like All Access as well, like Netflix does. But they bring nothing to the table like WB, FOX, Universal, and Sony do with their joint HULU venture.

I’ve already been speculating about the future of Paramount with the ousting of Vicom head Dauman. But the timing of All Access is interesting. To begin with Viacom doesn’t have a streaming service venture like the other major film and TV studios. So I wouldn’t be surprised if CBS hasn’t taken steps to license the Paramount film catalogue for both Showtime and All Access. But if there’s about to be a huge corporate shakeup at Viacom, it’s entirely likely Les Moonves and CBS could wind up in control of the entire business again. The companies were split in the first place specifically to give Moonves and Dauman the opportunity to run their own companies without interference by the other. CBS has been a massive success, and Viacom has been a dismal failure. With Redstone in his final years, he seems to be reorganizing his holdings to leave them in the best hands possible. And that appears to be Moonves.

So I’m betting that when All Access launches with STD in January, it will be with all of CBS & Paramount’s assets, as well as any licensing deals both companies have in place for third party content. And that would be a heck of a service, which Apple has already been negotiating with CBS to include in a future TV bundle. So CBS goes from being one Chanel on your TV tuner with 15 hours of original programming a week, to a universe of products owned and controlled by CBS.

This could then be a model for all other networks, who over time pull their catalogue back to be exclusively offered on their own streaming channels where they can promote their new offerings and keep customers spending more time looking at their virtual channel.

“With one month of All Access clocking in around the price of a cup of coffee, it’s hard to fret about adding it to your monthly bill.”

I’m allergic to coffee.

Yeah. I don’t know what kind of coffee they have been drinking but McDonald’s sells a cup for $1.00.

I guess you’ve never darkened the door of a Starbucks, Jeff.



And I think there was a brief moment in time when you could get it in a STAR TREK cup too, if you asked real nice in the days before coffee lawsuits.

But you should be careful what you wish for. McDonald’s distributing STAR TREK would no doubt be cheaper but it wouldn’t be as filling.

When I tested CBS All Access on my Roku 4 device recently I did notice it seemed less sharp compared to Netflix and Hulu shows, but the most annoying thing were the 1 second progress loading bars between every commercial and the main show, and then a 1-2 second muted audio at the start of every commercial and show after the breaks.

Very annoying. I think if they don’t offer a non-commercial plan or limited with only commercials before and after the show, I’ll be waiting for it to be released on another platform, like Bluray if necessary.

Will the show be available via iTunes season pass?

Almost certainly not, at least for the first year or so. CBS is trying to sell All Access. Putting it on iTunes would severely undermine that goal. You want to watch Star Trek: Discovery in the United States, you’re going to be paying CBS.

Think of it this way: This would be like having an Orange is the New Black iTunes season pass, which makes zero sense.

What exactly can it hurt to offer Discovery thru Netflix in the USA and Canada? Has CBS said why? If it’s already profitable, then what’s keeping them from doing that?

It’s all a branding exercise for them to sell CBS All-Access. Millions of people will try their service for a new Trek show; nothing else they could offer would get them that much publicity or access to a potential audience.

Unless they moved Big Bang Theory to streaming only. :-)

They want to sell subscriptions to All Access. Putting DSC on Netflix too would kill All Access faster than you can say “Make it so.”

Any time you see a service offering “exclusive” content, it means that they don’t want to compete on price, or features, or quality, or quantity. Instead they’re trying to hold subscribers “hostage” by refusing to license their programming to other services. Paramount could get a much larger audience for ST:DIS – and more licensing revenue – by also offering it thru Hulu, Netflix, Amazon, etc. But that’s not what this is about: it’s about forcing people to subscribe to a service they don’t actually want, just to get something they do want.


Re:[CBS] could get a much larger audience for ST:DIS – and more licensing revenue – by also offering it thru … Netflix

As Les Moonves has already asserted that his outside the US deals with Netflix is a major component of why STAR TREK DISCOVERY is already profitable for CBS, you point, sans the incorrect Paramount assignation, is well taken.

When you subscribe to cable, you’re paying for a delivery system to get programming…programing that has already been paid for by advertising… into your home. Same with satellite. All those shows have already been paid for by the advertisers…with the individual networks and their programing. Then, the satellite, or cable service, sells MORE advertising to drop into available slots…yet we pay the subscription fee on top of THAT to have that “already paid for” content, delivered into our homes. This new CBS streaming service is no different. It already has commercials, but your paying to have it streamed into your home. I don’t see any difference…so I don’t understand all the ruckus is about.

Jonboc August 19, 2016 9:28 pm

Ostensibly, when you send a check to your local cable company, you’re paying that company for delivering the content to you via their system of infrastructure and technology, which they built and maintain at their own expense. CBS All Access is an OTT (over the top) service, which means that they’ve eliminated the middle-man, i.e. the delivery service. So, there’s no third party for you to send a check to—just CBS. And CBS didn’t build, and doesn’t have to maintain, any infrastructure system as part of the deal. Your ISP (which is often the same party as your cable TV delivery company) has built and is maintaining the infrastructure by which you would receive CBS All Access content, and you’re obviously already paying your ISP for internet service every month. Your ISP gets a payment from you, and CBS would get a payment from you. But, CBS wants two payments from you—your money and your time paid watching commercials. Hence CBS is “double-dipping.”


Re:there’s no third party for you to send a check to

Aren’t you conveniently forgetting your local isp company in this scenario, you’re paying that company for delivering the content to you via their system of infrastructure and technology, which they built and maintain at their own expense.

Disinvited Today 12:47 pm

How can I be conveniently forgetting something that I’ve clearly called attention to?

Your ISP (which is often the same party as your cable TV delivery company) has built and is maintaining the infrastructure by which you would receive CBS All Access content, and you’re obviously already paying your ISP for internet service every month. Your ISP gets a payment from you, and CBS would get a payment from you. But, CBS wants two payments from you—your money and your time paid watching commercials. Hence CBS is “double-dipping.”

I mean that there’s no third-party distributing CBS’s service per a distribution deal with them, as with cable TV companies. From the consumer’s point of view, there’s obviously a third-party, i.e. the ISP, as I said.


Re: How can I be conveniently forgetting?

Then, if you aren’t doing so in this specific case for CBS, why are you trying to paint its commercial situation as something unique and apart from cable offerings?

As part of my A/V geekness through my upper level education I had to follow cable systems development as in I actually attended cable companies’ offerings to take over a basic cable operation in my local community that was put together by the residents to solely service their inability to receive any OTA broadcast in their area because of their local mount’s signal shadowing.

I know from attending the presentations in my city council meetings that that basic service is not unique to my community. To whit, the cable company, and the ones that came after, that the municipality voted to take over their system, of which I am most familiar, had to offer to this day a basic service which ONLY includes the shadowed out OTA broadcast stations. My point is just to establish that AMC is available as a tier “basic” service to many cable customers just as the hay you are trying to make about ALL ACCESS.

AMC is the most egregious abuser of commercial insertions in their original programming. I am a THE WALKING DEAD fan, and I know this well.

I am also tangentially aware that FEAR THE WALKING DEAD (I am fuzzier on THE WALKING DEAD itself, but I am almost certain it is too.) is carried outside the U.S. by FOX NETWORKS INTERNATIONAL which is a pay service that carries commercials and only offers commercial free on one of its additional Premium channels.

Then, if you aren’t doing so in this specific case for CBS, why are you trying to paint its commercial situation as something unique and apart from cable offerings?

Because it is different, hence the new term, “OTT.” In the case of All Access, the ISP has nothing to do with the All Access service. Everybody already has internet service anyway, and uses it for innumerable purposes that have nothing to do with CBS All Access. In other words, the internet infrastructure is already in place and is not part of the deal vis-a-vis CBS All Access. With cable TV, you’re paying the cable company to distribute the content. Your cable fee does not fund the creation of the content. You could get a few channels via an antenna, if you want a more DIY approach. But, the cable company has its own infrastructure that delivers the content to you with a clear signal and no hassle on your part. You’re paying for that service. There is no corresponding service with CBS All Access. Whether or not you subscribe to All Access, you’ll still be paying your ISP for internet service that has nothing to do with All Access. So, with All Access it’s not as though there are two parties, each with their own pricing schemes—a TV channel that opts for ads, and a cable provider that charges a fee. There’s only one company, CBS, that is opting for TWO concurrent pricing schemes—ads plus a fee—hence “double-dipping.”

P.S. I overstated above. Your cable fee does obviously fund the creation of content for premium cable channels, like HBO and SHOWTIME. But, it doesn’t fund the content for the channels that have an ad pricing scheme. Advertisers pay NBC, CBS, TNT and MTV, and that’s what funds their content. Whereas your subscription fee fund the premium cable content.

In this case i think that we international viewers are more lucky than US/Can viewers!

STD will be the first TV show distributed exclusively by bit torrent

My, how freely you admit to being a thief.


Re: admit

grayzip did nothing of the kind. Besides, it was just a ridiculously exaggerated political commentary in the guise of a prediction.

And finally, it is absolutely impossible to steal something before it exists.

Possession with intent? :-)

Thorny August 20, 2016 7:49 am

Well, there is an ethical point to be made here.

What do you call it when a TV network, like CBS, jams as many commercials as they possibly can into an hour-long show, increasing the ad-load from 9 minutes in the 1960s to 15 minutes today, and doing so in a rather underhanded manner that takes advantage of the consumer’s good will and trust? Is there anything unethical in CBS squeezing as much money as they can from the consumer in this fashion? If not, then why should there be anything unethical for the consumer to squeeze as much content out of CBS as they can?

How many mind-numbing commercials have you endured over the course of your life? Do you suppose that you’ve paid more to CBS, in terms of time wasted watching commercials, than you would regard as a fair and equitable trade for the content that you’ve enjoyed in return? And were you apprised, before watching each of those CBS shows over the years, exactly how much of the show would be commercials? Or, did CBS just take advantage of your trust the trade would be a fair deal? This all may seem a strange way of looking at the simple act of watching a TV show, but I can assure you that CBS and the other networks are quite conscious of the time = money equation on their end. Why not give it equal consideration on your end?

Sorry for the typos:

why should *it be* unethical for the consumer to squeeze as much content out of CBS as they can?

Or, did CBS just take advantage of your trust *that* the trade would be a fair deal?

“What do you call it when a TV network, like CBS, jams as many commercials as they possibly can into an hour-long show,”

I call it the cost of doing business. CBS isn’t a charity entertainment service, they need to make money or they won’t make Star Trek. Given the choice, I’ll take the commercials. If you want to stand your ground and say “I won’t pay for Star Trek!” fine, but you sacrifice your right to complain about the lack of original Star Trek programming. The choice is yours.

This might be a generational problem. I grew up with TV before the age of VCRs and DVDs (first VCR in 1983, when I was 19.) So commercials are nothing new to me. I usually ignore them and thumb through a magazine (nowadays, iPad or Kindle), go get a snack, etc. I know that commercials are the price we pay to watch television programming. I watched TOS reruns and sat through commercials. I recorded TNG, DS9, VOY and ENT and still watched them live rather than wait and watch them later, sitting through commercials. I’ve been paying for cable all my life, so all this time I’ve been paying the cable company in addition to sitting through commercials. Millions like me have been doing likewise for 40 years. Sporadically, there are grumbles about the cost of cable (especially every time they raise their rates) or the choice of channels, but how often have you heard someone complain “why do I have to pay for commercials when I’m paying the cable company?” Rarely, if ever.

Yes, CBS All Access is a pay service that still uses commercial advertising. So does Hulu, but the complaining about Hulu has been much less pronounced than All Access.

Thorny Today 12:01 pm

“What do you call it when a TV network, like CBS, jams as many commercials as they possibly can into an hour-long show,” I call it the cost of doing business.

No, “the cost of doing business” is when a company LOSES money in the process of doing business, not when they surreptitiously milk their customers for all that they can. But, I see that you enjoy watching commercials, so there’s little point in debating the issue with you. Enjoy spending your limited time on this Earth watching commercials. But, don’t expect others to follow suit. To each his own.

Cygnus-X1… “No, “the cost of doing business” is when a company LOSES money in the process of doing business”

Clearly, you’ve never attended any sort of business class. Maybe you’ll take one when you get to High School?

“surreptitiously milk their customers for all that they can”

Clearly, you have no idea what “surreptitiously” means, either. CBS has done nothing surreptitious at all. They’ve been up front about charging for All Access and airing commercials with it.

“I see that you enjoy watching commercials”

And reading comprehension is another obvious failing of yours. I never said or implied that.

“Enjoy spending your limited time on this Earth watching commercials”

But it will be so much entertaining making fun of Millennials like you who want everything for free and throw a tantrum like the one above when you find out you have to… oh, no!… actually PAY for things! Welcome to the real world, Cyg.

Thorny Today 7:09 pm


Thorny Today 7:09 pm

I don’t know what inspired all of that nonsense, but my comment was not meant as an insult to you—just as a practical statement of fact. If you don’t have a problem with commercials, then there’s no point in arguing the value of time spent watching commercials. I personally don’t understand how anyone doesn’t mind commercials—I think that watching most of them kills your brain cells—but as I said, to each his own. I could launch into a synopsis of the business concepts that I’ve learned from Michael Porter, for example, but I don’t see the point in that, either. And you’re also wrong in your assumption about my demographic. Basically everything that you said in that last comment is factually incorrect, to say the least.


Re:you don’t have a problem with commercials

I’m not sure that you are accurately representing your specific commercials objection and the strength of your conviction in opposition to it in trying to characterize Thorny’s tolerance as something alien and apart from yourself.

You have made it abundantly clear that that strength of your commercials objection is not universal. You make exceptions, in that you are willing to tolerate commercials prior to a pay feature’s presentation and you make no specific complaint about blatant ads for which productions receive remuneration to inject in the form of product placement, including outright billboards; buses; bus benches; etc. covered in the exact same ads that bombard us in our non-fictional world – not to mention the actual commercials playing on JUMBOTRONs; TVs; and radios in a feature, occurring during it either. Your specific beef is not with paying for a presentation that includes ads but paying for one that interrupts the feature in an attempt to compel your attention to the ads.

In other words, like Thorny, you have a certain tolerance for ads being in a pay feature presentation, your strenuous objection is merely just to a specific method of including them on top of which they also charge you..

Disinvited Today 11:55 am

You’ve made the issue more broad and general than my point. My point had to do only TV commercials over the years: how they have increasingly taken up a larger portion of a nominally hour-long show, how the networks will jam as many commercials as they can into that hour-long slot—without letting you know that they’re increasing the amount that you’re “paying” (as in paying attention to stupid commercials)—that your time has certain value, just as the money that the networks receive from advertisers has value, and that networks will jam as many commercials into a show until the audience stops paying (attention), which is ana|ogous to the point made by Kayla in the article—that consumers will pay for a show with quatloos until the price in terms of currency becomes too high.

The only thing stopping the networks from continuing to jam commercials into a program is the unwillingness of the audience to continue paying (in terms of attention). By way of personal example, I reached my limit with South Park when Hulu began running its SVOD website. There are so many commercials jammed into South Park now that I literally won’t watch it. I’ve tried a few times, and by the third or fourth commercial before the show even starts, I get fed up and say to hell with it. Likewise, the only thing stopping CBS from continuing to raise the price of their SVOD content is consumers’ unwillingness to pay increasingly higher prices. As Kayla alluded to, at some price point, a large enough percentage of consumers finds the deal no longer equitable, or no longer affordable, and they simply won’t pay for it.

But, that doesn’t necessarily mean that those same consumers are not still curious about the program. They might want to see the show, but not for the high price being asked. And that’s where piracy kicks in. It’s very easy to say that it’s wrong to steal—and generally it is. But, did those same networks steal your time by raising the ad-load of an hour-long show from 9 minutes to 15 minutes without telling you in advance? Did they feel the moral obligation to notify you that they’d altered the deal? Or, did they just take what they could get away with taking? Increasing the ad-load means increasing profits for the networks, while decreasing the value-for-time trade on your end. Think about how much of your life has been literally wasted sitting through commercials over the past 10, 20, 30, 40 years. What if you could get, say, one-third of all that time back? How much would that be worth to you? The deal used to be 9 minutes of commercials per hour, and today it’s 15 minutes. It happened gradually—creeping up so that you might not have noticed for years that you’d been paying an ever increasing rate. Can you blame people for getting fed up and feeling that they’ve paid enough already?

Game of Thrones is the most pirated show in history? Not for long. Star Trek Discovery will be all over the pirate sites within minutes of each episode’s release. CBS is being really stupid here. They have to decide whether they want to be an old-fashioned TV network or a new streaming service. I won’t pay to watch ads on All Acccess. If I want to see ads I can see plenty of them on cable, for free. I would, however be willing to pay a couple bucks an episode to see the show on I-Tunes, or On Demand on my cable service. I will ONLY pay for content, not for ads. That’s just stupid.


Re:cable, for free

There’s no such thing as FREE cable. Ergo, there’s no seeing ads for FREE via it.

Great write up, thanks. I haven’t decided what I’m going to do, but I’m leaning to waiting for this on blu. My biggest beef thus far is I don’t like the double dipping with the commercials, and hearing its only removing 25% of normal commercial time. That feels like a ripoff. The big issue for me, is that I only want to get this for Star Trek Discovery, and while it may seem like a bargain at 5.99, the only plus I really see is this one show I want to watch.. That’s the only value add up against A/V compression, far too many ads compared to similar competitors, and a bunch of shows I can watch on my hi def antenna for free.

Comparing $6/month for the skimpy and incomplete programming you get from All Access to the $8-$9/month for the vast libraries of Hulu or Netflix is ridiculous. I get to choose from 28 seasons of Star Trek from Netflix, compared to five freakin’ epsiodes of Supergirl and one new Star Trek series from CBS? It’s a joke! Who cares about video quality or ads when the service provides so damn little content for the dollar?

Of course I want to see a new Trek show… Any chance to at least try it out. None of us would be here if that wasn’t the case. But I’m really having a difficult time trying to justify subscribing to yet ANOTHER streaming service, just for one show. Even if it is Star Trek.

What reall is grinding my inertial dampeners is the fact that it’s available on Netflix basically everywhere in the world EXCEPT for the US. I find that to be absolutely abhorrent.

This was a well written analysis, but for now, I don’t have enough reason to pay for this. I already can’t stand CBS / Paramount for their ridiculous fan film stances… And this teasing us with allowing Netflix access everywhere else really just about does it for me.

Yes, I’m probably being ridiculous. But really… it’s just one show. I have no other reason to buy into this new service.

I’ll be watching on Netflix here in the UK. I’m STAGGERED that the CBS service carries commercials. I cut the cord years ago, although the UK forces us, under threat of heavy fines or jail, to pay for the BBC and, even if you can prove you don’t use the service, continual harassment by the BBC’s debt collection agencies is commonplace. The main reason I have Netflix and Amazon Prime (and buy on iTunes) is that I hate commercials and want nothing to do with watching them. Before streaming and downloading, I watched everything on DVD or Blu-ray.

The more disappointing thing about about CBS having commercials on their service is that their original programming will still have to pander to commercial sponsors’ interests and episodes will have to be structured in acts specifically to accommodate the commercial breaks. The great thing about a Netflix or Amazon Prime series is that it can be structured in whatever way suits the narrative of that episode. If it needs to be 38 minutes long and structured in four acts in episode two, but needs to be 61 minutes long and with just one act in episode three, a streaming platform will allow for this.

All in all, it means Star Trek is only able half-heartedly to take advantage of the opportunities offered by a streaming platform. Beyond characters being allowed to swear at each other and run around naked, it risks being just another Star Trek show instead of moving into a new direction.



The Beeb’s got commercials? I’m SHOCKED! ;-)

Re:commercial breaks

Production companies, such as Alex’s, in the long run make their money from the eventual syndicated reruns. With that in mind, even if Kurtzman were to get commercial free first runs and other actual commercial free streaming shows have to organize it all with breaks with that future revenue in mind.

“I’m envious of the 188 countries that will be watching new Trek on Netflix.”

Can I hear an “Amen”

I don’t believe the service is THAT widely available. Maybe I’m just getting old but I’m never watching a TV show or a film on my phone. Outside of my phone I have four other devices that I can use to watch Netflix, Prime, and Hulu on my TV and none of them have CBS AA on them. I MIGHT be willing pay the monthly fee to watch the show but I’m definitely not investing in a new piece of tech just to watch the show.

Anthony Lewis,

I take it your family wasn’t in the demographic in the 60s that bought a color TV because of TREK?

Excellent article. The compression issue bugs me. I hope TPTB are reading this. Personally, I prefer the Netflix model. Monthly fees add up WAY to fast and it’s tough to tell your spouse that $100 (per season) is tv not new shoes.

Glad to see someone else berating streaming quality, audio particularly.
Netflix here in the UK is outstanding; full HD and 5.1 DD. Sky’s ‘Now TV’ however has compression issues for me on the audio. I do wonder why, in this day and age, we are sacrificing technical quality. It seems rediculous to me.
Growing up in the 80s, audio always sounded great. Perfect in fact, once stereo came in! Picture was shocking though, especially pan and scan. Now we seem to have sorted the picture at the sacrifice of the sound.
Yawn! I’ve dozed off just writing this…sorry.


I’ve started watching the first season of Mission: Impossible on CBSAA, and I don’t mind the commercials too much, although I haven’t actually started paying for the service yet, and the first season is free. That said, the commercials at least follow the act breaks, but tend to be very repetitive. You will often see the same commercials several times during one show.

The flat-out worst service when it comes to commercials is Crackle. The service is free but they load up on commercials. This is especially bad with movies, where commercials will interrupt mid-scene; they don’t even try to put them at an act break or even transitions between scenes.

Good write up. Double dipping will become the norm if consumers allow it. I still have a verizon unlimited data account and I remember when they axed it from the available options for new customers using a statement like “We’ve listened to our customers and they tell us they want to pay for only what they use.” Translation is “we’ll charge you for what you use and it, coincidently, will be more than what you were paying for what you weren’t using.” I am sure CBS has a business model/study that tells them that viewers want to see commercials AND pay for content. Because, of course we do. Oh, and remember, an “hour” long show 20 years ago was 51 minutes without commercials. It’s about 41 minutes now. I think with the amount of commercials on AMC, the Walking Dead has a run time of about 8 minutes per week. So it’ll be interesting to see what we get here…I am guessing 36 minutes. And don’t forget, there’s nothing saying that won’t run those silly and distracting advertisements during the show in the lower corner of the screen.


Re:Double dipping

Much as I hate doubble-dipping, isn’t just a fact of life by now that CBS has gotten away with it so much in the video on disc market that it’s really not a suprise they’re carrying it over to new mecrhandise “packages” as well?

I don’t understand why people are in a knot about $6.00. A Costa Lotta Latte at Starbucks costs that much. Let’s all go to Starbucks, grab a Latte and complain about how greedy CBS is…..(smh)

I hope the freedom from censorship doesn’t mean they’ll take too much advantage of it. One of the great things about Star Trek over the last 50 years has been the family friendly, cross-generational bonding that takes place as we’d all sit around the tv from the 5 year old all the way up to grandma and enjoy Star Trek together. I remember being 9 years old when TNG came out and it was the entire family.

Game of Thrones is great for those who enjoy that–but it doesn’t make for family bonding. We don’t need that for Star Trek.


You are simply mistaken. STAR TREK, that one has to pay for, hasn’t been G rated since the first motion picture

But every weekly series has been which has always been the true heart of Star Trek.

Jason Austin,

And there is absolutely no doubt that just as STARGATE SG-1’S first few SHOWTIME seasons adult cuts were edited for OTA syndication that that likewise will occur for STAR TREK DISCOVERY as also different edits from theatrical occurred for OTA network broadcast for each of the Trek movies.

And you are wrong when you misidentify network censorship and its standards and practices as STAR TREK’s heart which Gene Roddenberry made very clear he created to get around the censorship that his worthy scripts received from earlier series because of that, and NOT to kowtow and revel in it.



”He {Gene Roddenberry} walked into my office and told me about this series he wanted to do where one of the characters aboard the spaceship, Mr. Spock, was the devil – painted red and with a pointy tail. I said, “Are you crazy? No network is going to buy a show with the devil as one of the leads! If you want pointy ears in order to show there’s an alien on the ship, that’s fine. But get rid of the tail!”

…Susan Oliver played a green dancing slave girl [in the first pilot]. They {NBC} said, “You can’t have a naked green girl wiggling on the local Nashville station.”

The {NBC} West Coast vice president [of sales] said they couldn’t sell a show to affiliates in the Baptist south that had a character with pointed ears who was perceived as the devil. But I refused to change the ears.” — Herbert F. Solow, former Desilu vice president of production, in a telephone interview with Jane Wollman Rusoff of RESEARCH MAGAZINE on July 22nd of this year published at ThinkAdvisor.com as HOW THE FIRST ‘STAR TREK’ GOT OFF THE GROUND

And please note: Gene Roddenberry got both “the devil” and the “naked green girl wiggling” on his first STAR TREK series contrary to the picture of network STAR TREK where you are trying to retroactively rewrite its continuity as something “safe” and chaste that didn’t set out to challenge local community standards.

In perusing the list of shows available on the service ( http://www.cbs.com/shows/ ), I’d say 90% of the material has zero appeal to me. And I have to put up with mediocre video and audio quality and commercials to boot.

All signs point to STD being just another generic network show with an emphasis on titalation (I found it appalling and telling that they went out of their way to note that STD would have more sex than your average show) and a premise that seems to be only concerned with checking off some arbitrary list of “must-have” criteria (gay character, strong female character, black character, more sex, etc.).

These guys have a lot of work to do to even get me interested to watch, let alone actually pay money for this.


Re:emphasis on titalation

Were you more appalled than when you discovered STAR TREK, for which you had to pay in the cinema, abandoned the G rating?

“Even if you subscribe to all the major streaming services like Netflix ($8.99), Hulu ($7.99/month or $11.99/month ad-free), and Amazon Prime ($8.25/month), you’re still doing better than cable at around $30/month, less than half of the lowest possible cable bill.” Not sure how you do math, but just the few services you listed are more than the $30 basic cable. You are also missing one BEYOUND HUGE consideration in cord cutting, sports. We cut the cord back in the spring only to find out most sports briadcadt over the air on cbs, would not be carried by cbs all access. The NFL does not offer a variety of streaming packages. In short, it is $50 a month just to watch the Steelers games, badic cable getting turned back on. Untill networks can include sports, it ia a no go for a lot of people. Same for fringe channels like A&E and their highly rated Walking Dead.

Just get an ad blocker, send the right message. I can’t believe you pay for a service that has ads. Why would you pay to be advertised at? Imagine life with a preroll ad every time you turn on your phone, or your computer…

HBO NOW is not just on Apple. I have it on Roku, Samsung Galaxy and Mac.

I hope the rest of your research was better than that.

And TiVo.

That section did specify it was talking about the launch of HBO Now. Apple had about a three-month exclusivity period at launch, after which it started to show up for other systems like Android.

All access hold mean all access. I was able to watch CBS Sunday morning on my iPad. They just took that away! Not to mention it has never been available to watch on demand. I am cancelling this. I don’t want to own a TV anymore. I would rather watch shows when I want to.

Good for me, I’m in Europe, Netflix zone. € 12 ( monthly) Star Trek and Marvel series..without commercials.

Okay in my humble opinion, does anybody watch the House of Cards on Netflix? Couple months back the new season came on and I had no idea what’s going on. I had to Rewatch last season to understand what’s going on in the season. That’s the problem with streaming services you get 13 episodes and you’re sitting around twiddling your thumbs for the new season to arrive. And forget what happened last season . Unless CBS plans on releasing each of the 13 episodes one week at time, then maybe. Here is my point to spend $72 a year get only 13 episodes (oh my what an exhaustive production schedule!!!!! Does anyone remember when Star Trek used to be 20 to 24 episodes of season?) You watch 13 episodes within say two weeks and then you’ll have nothing to do until the next 11 months!. What makes me mad is the fact that Hollywood productions last for say 10 to 12 episodes in the series is over! Does anybody remember when the new seasons started in September and production wrapped and the series was over in early May? I am sick and tired of highly paid Hollywood types working very hard and giving us only 13 episodes – big deal ! This series needs to be longer — 20 to 24 episodes It needs to be stagnated over each week to keep the audience coming back! Why should I spend $72 are year and not watch CBS all access for 11 months until next season, when I could buy it on Blu-ray! But there are other things to watch in the meantime! Well from what I’ve read nothing worth my interest besides Star Trek.

Thanks for testing All Access! I hope CBS pays attention.

The commercials are a bummer, but the poor video/audio quality is unacceptable. They better get that sorted.

So the premier will air on CBS regular over the air, then move to All Access. If I like it, I can try All Access for one week free to gauge it’s quality. I just wonder how the quality differs between streaming thru my computer to my TV vs getting a Roku or a Fire TV box(not the Usb stick, and I don’t have either). I imagine the FireTV box and Roku are essentially video cards with apps. To get the best possible A/V I’d have to buy the FireTV box at $100. There is a lot of difference between Netflix quality streaming thru my Comp- bad vs thru my Sony Blu-ray player- great.

This kind of amounts to the same thing singer/songwriters go through trying to get paid for what they do. At some level it’s almost impossible to control it. I think the day is coming (maybe 30-50 years down the road) when artists won’t get paid for anything anymore because technology will leave them all in the dust and pirates will have the upper hand.

While the thought of having to pay to watch Star Trek on tv seems such a foreign concept to me (having watched it religiously since the 60s on network and syndicated tv without having to pay for it), it seems CBS has some notion that huge amounts of people are going to go along with their “got you by the cahoona’s” brand of marketing, which I totally disagree with. If Gene Roddenberry were alive today he’d be slamming his fist on a desk. “Star Trek is not meant for the few who want to pay for it, or can afford it!”

I’ve kinda given up on the Trek-ian vision of the future of Mankind because all people care about these days is profit and that is not what an Enlightened society is all about. And that’s the bottom line.

“Yeh, let’s make ’em pay! They’ll be like lemmings jumping over a cliff to see it!” Really??????
I don’t think so….

“I’ve kinda given up on the Trek-ian vision of the future of Mankind because all people care about these days is profit and that is not what an Enlightened society is all about. And that’s the bottom line.”

Agreed. There was a time when I thought we were capable of much more, but no longer.

Like others, I will NOT pay for the privilege of watching ads. I would be willing to pay for an ad-free option.

To my mind, Netflix and Amazon Prime are like old-school local video libraries, but accessible from home via new technology. The whole concept of CBS All Access seems flawed: it’s the equivalent of Paramount owning a local video library in the 1980s that only stocks Paramount VHSes.

Not exactly. While you can access new original shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime, you can’t access new original shows on the major TV networks, or any other network for that matter. So if you want to see something new and original via the Internet, then you have to subscribe to HBO, ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, Disney, etc.

In terms of your analogy, it’s like going to your public library but the new arrivals and periodicals sections requires a separate paid membership.and let’s say the library has special deals with the NYT and Random House, where you get to check out those books for free with your basic membership, but to get other publishers and magazines and Newspspers, you have to pay separate fees. And that’s why your analogy falls short, because both Netflix and Amazon are using that new original programming to draw in new subscribers. They’re not a public service like a library. The difference between what they’re doing and what CBS is doing is offering you a larger licensed catalogue (since that’s how their business started, as an online video library delivery service). For my money, I joined Netflix mainly to watch breaking bad, and to get other original Netflix programming and movie offerings. What I’ve noticed over the years is that lately the movie offerings have gotten to be awful. And most of the new original programming doesn’t appeal to me. Amazon Prime seems to have some better offerings, but in the end, both are going to get squeezed out by the content providers as they create more original programming, competing head to head with the traditional networks.

While they seem different to you right now, they aren’t … And they’re far from a modern version of a public library. Unfortunately, this is where it’s going — online versions of discreet networks which also offer their own catalogues, but not necessarily much else. Of all the services, Hulu is probably the best buy as it’s made up of a consortium of major studios offering a wide variety of new TV programs, as well as their old catalogues. Ultimately you’ll need an aggregator like Apple to package these internet channels like cable providers do at the moment, but hopefully to consumer will have more control over the programming packages they want. But don’t expect it will be much different than it is at the moment. You’ll still pay for the packages you want, it just want be $10 for each channel you want, and they’ll still probably have commercials.

Curious Cadet,

Re: Not exactly

You are more spot on in your library example than you may know, as that is EXACTLY the situation in my local SoCal public libraries due to severe municipal funding cutbacks.

Brand new releases of books and disc videos are not made “FREEly” available at first but rather have to be “rented” by library patrons for checkout until such time as either alternate funding becomes available to the library for the item’s purchase or the “rentals” themselves generate enough funds in what has all the appearance of a rent to own scheme for patrons to fund library purchases.

Wow. That’s awful.

With the ubiquity of illegal downloading, I wonder how long it will take before CBS moves the show to basic cable. Paying 6 bucks a month to watch one show with ads 12 times per year won’t fly for a lot of people who don’t have time to watch a lot of TV. And those who do, use Netflix. If this iteration of “Trek” needs a season or two to find its legs like all the others since TOS, then it’s a decision that will have to be made with lightning speed.