This week CBS CEO Leslie Moonves spoke at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference in San Francisco. When he talked about the CBS Corporation’s strategy, much of the discussion covered the various CBS direct-to-consumer offerings including CBS All Access, home of Star Trek: Discovery. We have highlights from that below and also news from the CEO of Viacom’s talk.
How Star Trek fans helped All Access and why Discovery isn’t on Netflix in the US
Discussing the launch of All Access and why they anchored it with Star Trek: Discovery, Moonves explained:
For All Access, obviously we are starting a new pay service, and we were offering our existing series and catch-up on current seasons and old seasons, but it was important to have original content. And what better way to get people to pay for the first time than offering Star Trek? It is a built-in fanbase that was pretty emphatic and not averse to paying for what they are getting.
Later during the presentation, Moonves noted how the decision to have Star Trek on All Access meant they gave up on short term money, but he felt it was worth it to help grow the streaming service:
We could have sold [Star Trek] to Netflix for a whole lot of money, but you can be darn sure that All Access wouldn’t be doing as well as its doing.
If they launched new Star Trek on CBS Network, it wouldn’t be serialized
The CEO went on to note that there were many choices for where they could launch a new Star Trek series, including possibly on the CBS Television Network. However, he also noted that the choice of All Access dictated the style of the show:
Star Trek could have gone on CBS, it could have gone on Showtime, it could have gone directly to Netflix instead of just international, for a lot of money. There is a distinction. The Good Fight is a spin-off of a successful CBS show. It is sort of different on All Access, they can be serialized. On CBS we try to avoid that generally. Network television generally works better when it is not serialized.
More original programming coming to All Access, Twilight Zone may debut in late-2018
As for the future of content for All Access, the CEO pledged “There is no question we are going to invest in more programming.” He also noted that currently Showtime has moved to launching new original programming every month to “reduce the churn” and expected the amount of original programming to increase for All Access:
On All Access, Star Trek: Discovery was a major hit. A lot of those subs are because of that show. We also have The Good Fight, which is The Good Wife spin-off, which is doing very well. We have a bunch of new stuff. By next year we should have five or six originals on the air. We continue to plan on having three or four new ones every single year. We are going to have a second season of Star Trek: Discovery. We have The Twilight Zone coming up, I think that is in the fall or early winter, which we are excited about. And there are a number of other things. You are going to see us ramp up that and as part of that we expect to ramp up subscribers.
Besides the three shows Moonves mentioned (Discovery, The Good Fight and The Twilight Zone), All Access has already announced a second season of the comedy No Activity and has another three scripted dramas set to debut: $1, Strange Angel, and Tell Me a Story. The second season of The Good Fight starts this Sunday.
Besides Moonves’ estimate of a fall release for The Twilight Zone, no dates have been given for other series, including the second season of Discovery which begins production in April. $1 starts production this month in Pittsburgh and Strange Angel is in pre-production with many roles recently cast.
Viacom launching streaming service
Speaking at the same conference this week was Bob Bakish, CEO of Viacom, the parent company of Paramount Pictures, who own the Star Trek feature films. While CBS and Viacom are considering re-merging, Viacom is still mapping out its own strategy, and that includes planning their own direct-to-consumer streaming service.
Bakish didn’t get too into the details, but did outline how Viacom was entering the streaming space this year, saying:
Later in the year, you’ll hear about the product we’re going to launch that leverage [our] assets, including over 10,000 hours of library product which we’re going to implement on a direct to-consumer basis in a differentiated way that we believe leverages not only our library assets, but also our ad sales capabilities… I realize that sounds kind of cryptic, but it’s an opportunity we’re excited about and you will hear more about it later in the year
While much of Viacom’s library is dominated by the content from their popular cable channels like Comedy Central, MTV and BET, it’s also possible they are looking to leverage the Paramount film library as well. Disney is another studio that has recently announced they are going their own way, launching their own streaming service, and Viacom may be following suit. It’s possible this future service could offer some or all of the 13 Star Trek feature films.
Star Trek: Discovery is available exclusively in the USA on CBS All Access. It airs in Canada on the Space Channel and is available on Netflix everywhere else.
Keep up with all the Star Trek: Discovery news at TrekMovie.