The internet, as well as the hearts and minds of millions of fans worldwide exploded this week as CBS made an announcement completely out of the blue: a new Star Trek television series would premiere in January 2017, on the heels of both the 13th Star Trek feature film Star Trek Beyond and the 50th anniversary of the venerable sci-fi franchise.
As quickly as that happy announcement was released, fans were surprised by the fact that the series would not be shown on the small screen in the typical fashion. The new Star Trek would only be available in the states on CBS All ACCESS, the network’s pay-per-month streaming video service. This quickly created a fairly intense backlash among some fans as this means that they will have to pay $5.99 per month to watch the new show.
While the concerns are understandable, there are a few things we need to consider:
-As much as we love and revere Trek in our hearts, it is a commodity owned by CBS. It is a product that is intended to make money. As such, when marketing the series they can and will charge what the market will bear. Whether that’s by selling advertisements or charging fans directly for the streaming service, CBS is trying to run a business. They know that by featuring the series on CBS ALL-ACCESS that millions of fans will pay to watch it. This is a given. It’s just good business. To be completely honest, $5.99 per month seems to be a more than fair price to watch new Trek.
-There is precedent with using Star Trek in unconventional ways. In the late 70’s, Star Trek Phase II was a new series in production with the original cast meant to be the flagship series for a new network by Paramount. The series was ultimately aborted and Star Trek: The Motion Picture was produced, but this concept of a television series carrying a network was reused in 1995 When the UPN debuted with Star Trek Voyager at the forefront as its showcase programming.
–Star Trek: The Next Generation Premiered in Syndication, the first television series to do so, paving the way for series like Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules to do likewise.
To those threatening to boycott the show because of the proposed broadcast format: You’re cutting your nose off to spite your face. You cannot blame CBS at all for wanting to do this. Star Trek has an extremely zealous fan base and has always been considered a “crown jewel,” for the studios that have owned it. They are practically guaranteed to sell millions of subscription to ALL-ACCESS by basing the new Star Trek there. Forbes magazine today is predicting the revenue CBS will gain from the New Trek series by housing it on ALL-ACCESS will be nearly $414,000,000.00 for 2017 alone. (This is assuming the subscribers keep their subscriptions for ALL-ACCESS for the first six months of 2017 and then cancel it.) Again, if you think it isn’t about the money, you’re fooling yourself. To keep Star Trek on screen and vital, it needs to be profitable. It would seem that this strategy is pretty much guaranteed to pay off. As long as the show is carrying the spirit of Gene Roddenberry’s original vision, is engaging, exciting and does what all good science fiction does: lets you examine the human condition from an outside perspective, then this writer (who by the way lives paycheck to paycheck just like most of the rest of you) will happily pay the monthly subscription cost to “BOLDLY GO,” into, “THE FINAL FRONTIER…” (See what I did there???)
What say you? Are you excited about the prospect of a new Star Trek Series? Please comment and share to foster honest and open dialogue. Just remember, comments like, “They are being greedy,” or, “They are just trying to make a buck off the fans,” only go to support the argument made in this article! Now, if you’ll excuse him, this Word of the Nerd writer is going to go sign up for CBS ALL-ACCESS, as well as look into what it would take to become a VERY SMALL-time CBS shareholder.