ViacomCBS Exec Updates Star Trek Plans For Next Year On Expanding CBS All Access

Last week CBS All Access rolled out a big update, adding thousands of hours of content from Viacom cable channels. And this is just the first step towards an early 2021 rebranding and relaunch of the service as a “super streamer” as ViacomCBS takes on competition from other media companies like Disney, Warner Brothers, and NBC Universal. Now a key ViacomCBS executive is offering a bit of a preview of what is to come for the streaming service, including plans for Star Trek.

Season 2 of Picard coming to new All Access next year, but maybe not Nickelodeon’s Prodigy (yet)

In a detailed interview with Decider, ViacomCBS chief digital officer Marc Debevoise previewed the relaunch of CBS All Access. One of the subjects that came up was the Star Trek franchise, which has been a key component of All Access since the launch of Star Trek: Discovery in 2017.

How far off are you from having Star Trek as a churn-proof, year-round franchise?

We will have 23 straight weeks of original episodes starting Thursday with Star Trek: Lower Decks, which is an animated comedy from one of the writers on Rick and Morty. There’s huge interest in the show. It’s the most trailer views we’ve ever gotten for an original series. That runs for 10 weeks, and then Discovery will start the week after and run for 13 weeks. Star Trek: Picard Season 2 will be ready sometime in 2021.

The bit of news there is with regards to Star Trek: Picard. CBS has not previously set a release target for the second season of the show. It was was to go into production in June, but the pandemic has put the production start on hold with the latest estimates being some time this fall. By giving Picard season 2 a 2021 release date, Debevoise is showing a level of confidence that the show could go into production in Southern Californa sometime this year.

The Star Trek: Picard cast at the end of season one

There was no mention of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds in the interview, which may not mean anything. The latest news from the Star Trek Universe Comic-Con panel is that the writers’ room has broken stories for 10 episodes. There is no word on when Strange New Worlds will go into production, and it’s plausible the first season will not be on the new All Access until 2022. Debevoise also didn’t mention the second season of Lower Decks which is already in production and could quite plausibly arrive in 2021.

The Comic-Con@Home Star Trek Universe panel also revealed that CG-animated kids series Star Trek: Prodigy is set to premiere on Nickelodeon in 2021. Even though last week’s update to All Access included content from Nickelodeon, and there is a new original SpongeBob series coming to the new All Access in 2021, it appears that new shows that air on the Nickelodeon network (like Prodigy) will take some time to appear on the streamer. According to Decider:

Episodes of CBS shows will continue to be available the next day on the relaunched service, but episodes from shows on BET, Comedy Central, MTV and other ViacomCBS cable networks will not become available on the streamer until a year or more after those seasons end.

So for fans who want to catch Star Trek: Prodigy as it airs in 2021, you will likely have to have a cable, satellite or streaming bundle that includes Nickelodeon.

Coming in 2021, to Nickelodeon

There may be more info about the future of Star Trek on the new All Access coming later this week at the ViacomCBS quarterly earnings call. TrekMovie will provide an update if there is anything to report.

Keep up with everything going on with the Star Trek Universe on TV at

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re: “Strange New Worlds”, the idea of it taking roughly three years to conceive, green light, write and produce 10 episodes of a new TV show would have been laughable 40 years ago, when production companies turned out 26 new episodes of a show in less than a year while having a fraction of the budgetary and technological resources available to modern teams.

Most shows now are only 10 episodes or less. 26 episodes or more is a thing of the past. People have short attention spans now.

People don’t have shorter attention spans now, they process information faster. And that has nothing to do with 26 episodes vs 10. 75% of TNG is filler crap, and there are maybe, generously, 10 genuinely good episodes out of the ones that are non-filler. The reason they used to be able to make 26 episodes per season with less money and less technology is because the shows were cheap, and they could knock out endless, meaningless filler episodes for more ad revenue. Television shows today are what motion pictures were 30 years ago.

I dare to disagree. Yes, there used to be filler crap back then, but not nearly 75%. I’m very critical about some missed opportunities back in the day, but only 10-15% of these episodes were cheap fillers such as Shades of Grey or your Lwaxana / Ferengi comedy of the season.

On the other hand, it is modern-day shows that knock out endless filler moments in order to expand a story they could easily tell in two hours into a 10-hour season arc. Most modern TV shows, even the best ones, are not rewatchable for their extreme dependence on how the finale is received. NuBSG, Lost or GoT, all very good shows throughout most of their tenure, ended on an arguably very weak notion and are therefore ruined for most viewers for good.
That didn’t happen to older shows. At least those 10 good episodes per season remain still very rewatchable decades later.

Modern-day TV is not what movies used to be in the past. A movie with its 90-130 minutes is still much easier to watch and rewatch then these dragging 10-to-13-hour seasons. And even those seasons cannot be watched independently. Most modern TV shows are a waste of valuable viewing time for more important things like movies and old TV episodes…

A movie with its 90-130 minutes is still much easier to watch and rewatch then these dragging 10-to-13-hour seasons. “

Yes. This.

Can’t really blame anybody for shades of grey. The writers strike caused that episode to be made.

You are living in the past dude.

“More important things like old TV episodes” ?????

I couldn’t agree more. I live in the past! For far too long have I attempted to get into modern “adult” TV with its arc-based storytellig, relentless gore and nudity and pointless swearing.

I’m NOT giving up on new Trek despite all of these elements being somewhat incorporated, but as far as other new stuff is concerned (The Boys, The Witcher come to mind), I’m not even contemplating giving those a chance…

I’d rather watch old Trek, Knight Rider, SeaQuest, Space:1999, Time Tunnel, ALF for the rest of my life than having to suffer through another GoT or Westworld experience…

Amen. Try LEXX, Farscape, BSG, and many others. WW was good for the first season. After that, it started loosing my interest. I like single 1-2 episode stories. Not this crap what takes all season to figure out where they are going with the show. STD just sucked. Like a 6 paragraph, run-on sentence. Just very irritating. Picard was very boring. I miss the old Sci-Fi (unlike SYFI) programing.

STD is crap. Picard is boring. I would rather re-watch TNG, VOY, DS9, TOS, ENT, or the movies than this new garbage. Hopefully SNW will be better. And it isn’t just Trek. The latest Star Wars movies completely sucked. And Disney knows it and is trying to do damage control with Lucas at the helm. And more people watch ‘old TV episodes’ than the new trash. Guaranteed.

Episodic shows are annoying :
Hey your wife, mother, best friend, planet just died but end the episode with a smile and 7 days later it will be like nothing happened………….

100% of Discovery has been filler crap.

I enjoy most of the seasons in every Star Trek show and most weren’t ‘meaningless’ just because you didn’t like them. The irony is the best episodes of PIC and DIS so far for me would probably be considered ‘filler’ since they were mostly standalone stories that had little to do with the main story lines. But there were way too few of them.

So are you saying that these short season shows don’t have “filler” episodes? Picard could have easily been 3-4 episodes shorter. A lot of that show was “filler”. Having a short season does not mean there is no more “filler”. This is true of a lot of other shows, as well.

More episodes = more commercials equal more revenue
Subscription shows are not based on commercial sales therefore a 10 episode show is more cost effective and has many other benefits.

TV shows with commercials will still have more episodes and more filler.
the changes in the world in this year are so hard for folks to grasp
Things are different now , keep telling yourself that and change will be much easier to handle

Basically I’m agreeing with what your saying

So you are saying that in streaming, the audience loses while the service provider wins. Nice.

Streaming shows are 10-ish episodes. But most network drama series in the U.S. are still 20-ish.

2019-20 season:

9-1-1 = 18
Bull = 20
Chicago Fire = 20
Chicago Med = 20
Chicago PD = 20
Grey’s Anatomy = 21
Law and Order: SVU = 20
A Million Little Things = 19
NCIS = 20
NCIS:LA = 22
NCIS:NO = 20
The Resident = 20
The Rookie = 20
Seal Team = 20

And note that many shows ended production prematurely due to COVID-19.

And how many of those shows are filler or bottle shows to save money? The only benefit of having a long season is spending more time with the ensemble cast, therefore getting to know them better, and not having to rush through the main story arc. I’d say a middle ground is what they should aim for, but a 13 episodes season is preferable to a 26 episodes season.

It sounds as though Picard season two has been the focus of resources since the lockdown.

This really reinforces the idea that ViacomCBS put all their eggs in the basket of California restarting before alternative production sites in Toronto/Missisauga, Vancouver or elsewhere outside the United States. At this point, it looks like they may have put themselves on the back foot, but they’re not ready to acknowledge it.

As a Trek fan, I really hope that they are pivoting behind the scenes. Otherwise, CBSAA will be caught without new content while Netflix, Amazon and Entertainment One are getting what they can done where they can.

Picard is funded with California tax credits and grants – if it doesn’t film there, they lose those benefits, making the show too expensive

Amazing point. I forgot all about the tax credits they got.

Canadian provinces also offer those tax credits.

Yes, CBS Studios has commitments to the province of Ontario in relation to tax credits, among others.

They also have new soundstages at CBS Studios Mississauga that are set aside for Star Trek (according to media statements by Secret Hideout last year), as well as soundstages with standing sets at Pinewood Studios Toronto that (owned by BellMedia and the City of Toronto).

Ontario may have provided flexibility timing when film and television production was halted for lockdown, but as of last Friday Toronto is in stage 3 reopening which allows production with safety protocols.

Toronto may be in stage 3, but the border is still closed. I would think a lot of the crews are Canadian but surely many are American and would need to cross the border. And of course so is the cast. Unless this all qualifies as essential services, but that would be stretching it… Maybe I’m missing something?

Just saw your answer to me below on this topic TG47, thanks!

No California, no Sir Patrick. He said in the season 1 publicity that filming in LA County was a prerequisite for him.

Much to the chagrin of the studio trying to negotiate tax credits.

CBS Studios: “Give us the tax credit we want for Picard, or we’ll take our production to Canada.”

California: “Uh, your titular star just said in the Hollywood Reporter he’d never film outside California, so we’re calling your bluff!”


Development of Deep Space Nine started while Roddenberry was still alive but the show only debuted in 1993. So it’s not unusual to take years to develop a new show. The turnaround is usually faster for later seasons.

It’s not really a fair comparison. Forty years ago network television rarely wandered from the sound studio, sets were cheap, SFX was almost inexistent, and the studio had a lot more latitude to abuse the on screen talent. Today’s streaming franchises are like mini movies now, and it takes (a lot) more time to produce something with the attention to detail that a high def audience demands.

And yet with all of those advantages many of those short season shows aren’t any better than their older longer seasoned counterparts.

Kevin thinks he has made a point.

Kevin has not.

You hit the ball right on the screws Kevin Lee. Why it takes so long (ignoring pandemics) to get a mere 10 episodes shot is just ridiculous. Just 20 years ago shows were cranking out 26 episode seasons. I guess this just goes to show how old I am.

It’s kind of like how when I grew up a starting pitcher expected to go at least 7 innings. Anything less was a bad start. Even if they only went 5 giving up 1 run. Pitchers would routinely have 12-15 complete games and the leaders had 20+. Now the leaders have perhaps 6 and if a starter goes 5 innings teams are happy with it. Everything changes.

I mean, why does it take films weeks of shooting to produce two hours of movie? Because the studio is throwing money at them to get it right so they get their money back when ppl watch. These new Star Trek shows have enormous budgets (although PIC looked rather shoestring), so they can afford to take their time to be meticulous about the production, and they want to make sure they recoup the investment. I dunno how long it takes to shoot the average episode of Disco, but it’s probably longer than the standard TNG.

I read it takes about 2 weeks to shoot a standard episode of DIS. In TNG’s day it was 8 days. So there an additional six days. And I imagine they get a few extra days off time off as well if they shoot straight through.

Because a movie is different from a TV show. Now TV seems to take as long to shoot as a feature film does because, as you said, the productions are bigger. So then doesn’t that make it fair to treat the TV show like one would treat a movie? I think given that it is unacceptable to say, “The show will get better by the 3rd season.” NO! This show is shot like a feature film! There is no excuse for them to take three swings to get it right. These new short season shows have no excuse whatsoever to NOT be at least decent right off the bat.

Picard season 2 in 2021… Hopefully the show returns to production in Southern California soon. The virus is still spreading in California, Texas, Florida and other states. who knows how long the lockdown will last.

The new streaming service can compete against Disney, NBC Universal, Netflix, and HBO Max with new content. I like their strategy here.

On Prodigy, so you can watch it on the streaming service. I thought it was a Nickelodeon exclusive.

Not exactly, based on the comments Prodigy won’t be streaming on AA for at least 12 months after it’s aired on Nickelodeon.

Why 12 months? Nickelodeon and CBS All Access are the same company right. Because of the CBS Viacom merger.

That’s what the CBSViacom executive told Decider. You can read the quote in this very article you’re commenting on.
And yes they might be part of the same larger parent corporation now, but that doesn’t mean there still aren’t exclusive windows for content between the various subcompanies.

Not challenging the report, just noting that it seems odd. I wonder what contracting/legal/financial explanation there is for why an original Nickelodeon spin-off of Spongebob can go immediately to streaming but an original Nickelodeon spin-off of Star Trek has to wait a year.

Yeah I agree it does seem extreme. I’m wondering if it really will end up being a year, that’s probably the boilerplate answer for now. My guess would be it goes to CBSAA after the complete season airs, not a year later.

Television networks still really want eyeballs, so they like to have windows of exclusivity. So I could see Nick wanting to keep the new content on their network for as long as it makes commercial sense.

The SpongeBob spinoff is of course the reverse situation, so it’s different.

Depending on the Plague and where things fall on the production schedule, it’s conceivable there could be a very long stretch of 2021 with no new Trek programming.

Unless Section 31 is still a go and has been working quietly in the shadows, living up to its namesake. :-)

Considering that Canada is doing much better at dealing with COVID-19 than the US, I am wondering if production for Star Trek Picard Season 2 could be moved from Hollywood to Pinewood Toronto Studios, the same facility Discovery used, just for safety. The elderly are particularly vulnerable, and Sir Patrick Stewart is 80, after all. OTOH, Sir Patrick absolutely did not want to re-locate to Toronto, which was why Picard was shot in California and at Paramount Studios.

The border between Canada and the US remains closed, except for essential services. I don’t think shooting a series or movie would qualify, but I may be wrong.

Temporary worker permits for film and television production are already being granted Silvereyes.

That means that American and other non-Canadian producers, directors, actors and other guilds can come into work. They still need to observe the 14-day quarantine though.

The quarantine would be tough on families as I haven’t heard that dependants can come too. Also it will add to the total costs.

Hallmark has television movies and series back in production in Vancouver and Eastern Ontario.

That said, moving Picard would be a complete different set of issues. The tax credits are in place in California not Ontario; the sets and the location of the vineyard are in California; and the production guilds are all American which would not meet the criteria for the Ontario tax credits.

For reference, here is a Canadian federal government news release about film and television production restarting and information on work permits.

It pointedly notes that Netflix has put out a call for new Canadian production.

Here’s a a tweet with a recent video promo from Ontario Creates on reopening production.

You’ll see that it mentions Star Trek: Discovery.

Very interesting. Thanks for the info TG47.

Producing Star Trek is an essential service

The safety of one country over another is less the issue then the border restrictions. Moving a production from one country to another pretty much means you’re likely to be there for a considerable amount of time.

Canada is in a better position to restart film production compared to the US. You guys in Canada are very lucky to survive COVID-19 as things are. It’s chaos down here in the US.

I wouldn’t be optimistic about the near future. It will continue to get worse.

That’s a really good point. Disco’s been delayed because of early COVID-19 chaos, but it could end up regaining some lost ground.

Hearing some rumblings about a Star Trek: CompuServe on the horizon, too…

Picard Season 2 is still very unlikely to happen. If you ask me, it will probably never happen and I’m very glad they didn’t end Season 1 on a cliffhanger.

Patrick Stewart is now older than 80. Without the pandemic, he could still continue for years, but I highly doubt he will risk infection at his age and return to filming a TV show with hundreds of close contacts on a daily basis. By the time we might get a vaccine, he will probably be far too old to continue. After all, he isn’t a golem that can be switched on again.

I’m very grateful this show happened. We got one great season that ended on a high note of bittersweet nostalgia. But I simply cannot imagine this show to continue any time soon…

Time to move on to Strange New Worlds instead…

I’m okay if it never happens. Season one is the worst season of any Star Trek series, in my opinion; I definitely do not need another.

Interesting how opinions differ. I thought it to be incredibly better than Season 2 of Discovery, for example.Some things were a bit weird, but overall it was a good first season and quite interesting, IMHO.

I thought Picard to be better than all of DSC so far, but that’s not saying a whole lot. Everything produced by these showrunners has been disposable so far, imo.

They don’t have to rely on a vaccine. Just make sure everyone working on the show is tested negative and isolated enough. That’s going to be the reality for every show and film out there. But as long as Stewart wants to do it, and he does, they will figure it out.

And Strange New Worlds sound like it won’t happen until 2022 the earliest.

It’s not just testing Tiger2.

Other than some productions in isolated areas, the people involved won’t be isolated, just living and working in communities with very low infection rates and good mitigation measures.

The protocols noted in the media so far in Canada include special handling of catering, set up for lighting and sound being done before the actors come on set, and other things that will isolate the production into smaller groups of people, but will increase production time and costs.

The head of Pinewood Studios Toronto is quoted with an estimate of about 14% higher costs on average.

I’m only making the point they wouldn’t just wait for a vaccine. If that was the case pretty much every Hollywood production wouldn’t be up until then basically shutting it down.

Why should I bother paying attention if we in the UK don’t get all of the Trem the USA and Canada do?

It’s very disappointing we have little to no updates regarding international distribution.

I can’t say I’m chomping at the bit to watch “Prodigy,” but even so, that’s disappointing news if it would take a freaking year to migrate to CBS All Access.

I’m not excited for Prodigy either. But ironically it is the show that is easiest to access being on Nickelodeon. When it comes out I’m going to have to remember what channel it’s even on! I know I’m not the target but I will still check it out as I am a Trek fan and will be curious to see it.

Same, I’ll probably watch the premiere on Nickelodeon, revisit my childhood days in the 90s when Nickelodeon was all I watched and I wished there was a Star Trek cartoon for me (I never saw TAS)

Well none of this is surprising obviously. Picard does sound like its the only show in the position to shoot right now as it was suppose to. My guess is SNW was never meant to even air until 2022 and now with the pandemic that’s probably the reality. DIS hasn’t even been renewed yet (but yes I know there is information a season 4 is being prepped) but that’s probably not shooting until next year at best too. Not even a peep about Section 31…again. Weren’t we told over and over that show was going to start after Discovery finished it’s third season?

It is pretty crazy we have so many shows now, already MORE shows than what we had in the Berman era in just three years after Discovery premiered but it doesn’t feel like it. I guess the low episode count and is a huge factor along with all the recent delays.

It looks like we will get 23 weeks of Star Trek (yay) but then after that it could be 6-10 months before we see another show IMO.

For live action Trek, yes. There’s about to be a dry spell in 2021. There will be animated shows next year at least, CBS will have Lower Decks season 2 and Prodigy on Nickelodeon in 2021.

The 6-10 months line was including the animated shows too. It does sound like when Prodigy comes out it won’t anytime before next summer. And maybe the same issue for season 2 of LDS. But maybe that will come much sooner?

Based on what I read here, I’d also assumed late 4th QTR 2021 for any new content, either live or animated. That’s a long stretch to just sprinkle the occasional Short Trek….unless SNW or S31 are both much further along then anyone has disclosed. That’s not without precedent, recall that Bad Robot dropped one of their Cloverfield sequels direct to streaming in a production that was very black ops. It just appeared on Netflix one day.

Strange New Worlds is 2022. Section 31 might be 2023. I’m not sure about Discovery season 4. Picard season 2 may not happen because of COVID-19 or get delayed.

I’m happy we are getting more Star Trek in the next few years.

It would be interesting to get CBS on the record on the status of Section 31. Is this show still a go, or was it abandoned in favor of SNW? The silence on Section 31 is deafening.

It’s being drowned out by the fan backlash at the very thought of the show

That’s what I’m starting to think too. I mean I been saying this for awhile, it’s very, very quiet about Section 31 all of a sudden. Maybe it will still happen but I don’t think anyone would be shocked if it was canceled. And now they have the coronavirus as an excuse if they really do cancel it.

They still keep mentioning the show as being in development in their press releases. So it’s not cancelled. At the same time it doesn’t seem like Section 31 will go into production anytime soon even though they once said that it would shoot right after Discovery season 3.

Kinda ironic that 2020, the worst year ever, is the first year in 15 years where we’ve gotten a “full” season of Star Trek content, 33 episodes across three series. Let’s just hope LDS and Disco aren’t as bad as Picard was, and that this isn’t just another case of 2020 playing a cruel joke on us. I can’t bear to watch my favorite franchise go down in flames the way the rest of the world has, just when we all needed Star Trek to be good.

Picard wasn’t bad, it just was different from what people wanted and what they expected.
Granted, some things in it and some aspects of it can be critisized legitimately, but the overall show was a success.

I would argue that depends on one’s definition of “success”.

Agreed. I thought Picard was watchable, and some moments even memorable, but they were few and far between. Not worth a rewatch, for me. Disco has lost me. The reviews here are going to have to be stellar for me to even consider watching s3.

I would have cbsallaccess, BET+ and showtime all be a bundle for 15 dollars and noggin would just be a game app since it does not make sense to complete with one another if you’re all at the same company.

Trek junk food. Hey if Disney can screw up and over sell their universe, we can too.

What I really want to know is how are ViacomCBS planning to improve international distribution of Star Trek? How are they Marketing this franchise outside of the USA. It’s all very well new Star Trek being on All Access and on in Canada but the true mark of a successful franchise is how well it is selling overseas. The U.K. and Germany have big Star Trek fanbases but clearly things haven’t been going so well for them as Netflix doesn’t seem to be too keen to involve themselves in anymore Star Trek beyond finishing their contract with Discovery and Amazon haven’t picked up any new Star Trek show beyond Picard.

It’s a bit of a mess really so while they can shout from the rooftops as to how ‘successful’ Star Trek is at the moment, the reality of it is, they can’t seem to sell it to other markets, the merchandising for each of the shows has been horrific beyond Eaglemoss and a smattering of one off collectables… companies seem to be showing little to no interest in producing Star Trek toys for retail…

They say that their new slate of Star Trek productions are these huge hits… I’m yet to see that. It seems to me that the current slew of Star Trek since Discovery has seen mixed reactions and successes from critics and audiences, that they are struggling to secure an international distributor for Lower Decks due to the moderate success of Picard for Amazon and the less than expected success for Netflix with Discovery. So far the last new Star Trek the U.K. has seen was Picard Season 1 and Discovery Season 2.

If they want this franchise to keep building on its successes and it’s legacy, they need to find an international partner to distribute all new and legacy shows while they sort out their own Global streaming service.

D Ellis, your recommended approach of distributing ViacomCBS content on other global platforms is basically what CEO Bob Baklish pitched to the financial markets as ViacomCBS’ strategy back in December when the remerger was finalized.

And to Baklish, who once was VP head of international distribution before the split, it likely made the same sense that it does to you and those waiting to see CBSAA properties overseas.

However, investors did not respond well, and the share price did not do as well as hoped. Instead, Sheri Redmond bought up more stock which bolstered the price and increased her personal concentration in ownership.

The financial press has interpreted this as a strong signal from the markets to ViacomCBS that they need to be distributing their own content globally to be a reasonable prospect for the future.

It’s hard to know how fast and how hard ViacomCBS is changing its strategy to roll out its own content on own streamer internationally. As far as I know, Australia is the only other country where they have a significant streamer, otherwise they are in broadcast television channels and premium cable.

Certainly, here in Canada they are locked in with BellMedia for distribution, but they are also using BellMedia’s Pinewood Studios Toronto for production so I can’t see them pulling back their Star Trek content to tiny CBSAA Canada.

So when will CBS start giving a damn about countries outside the US? When is All Access coming across the pond? These are the questions I find far more important than knowing “More Trek is coming” (which we already know). Also don’t think Picard Season 2 will begin shooting this year, due to the aforementioned Coronavirus pandemic.

I watched the first episode of Lower Decks………and I’m done with it.

It’s really sad the Star Trek has been reduced to this.

Though I REALLY want to see Strange New Worlds – Kurtzman & Secret Hideout needs to be FIRED ASAP!