Fifty years ago, “Star Trek” started boldly going where no man has gone before. In 2017, it will go where no CBS show has gone before: Straight to the network’s on-demand streaming service CBS All Access.
That’s right, Trekkies: CBS Television Studios is developing a new “Star Trek” series with producer Alex Kurtzman (also one of the minds behind the current Trek movie franchise), set to debut in January 2017. The catch is that while the first episode will premiere on the CBS broadcast network, all subsequent episodes will “air” first on CBS All Access -- an over-the-top, or OTT, service -- which requires a membership at the cost of $5.99 per month. All Access gives next-day access to episodes of current series (though you still have to sit through ads) and has a considerable back catalog of old CBS-owned hits, plus the ability to livestream the CBS feed in 110 markets. But “Star Trek” will be the first series exclusively available on the app.
The number of All Access subscribers remains unknown, but it’s clear that CBS Corp., which also owns CBS, premium cable channel Showtime, and half of The CW, is looking to make a splash in the subscription video on demand (SVOD) space. It’s a big bet that audiences will sign up for All Access just for “Trek,” but making the service’s first exclusive series one with such a passionate, large fan base goes a long way to making it a safer one, too.
CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves has proven one of the more innovative TV execs in the industry, particularly surprising, given that the Tiffany Network is perhaps the most well-positioned to survive the coming apocalypse of an ever-aging and diminishing audience. Since the launch of All Access in 2014, CBS began making deals with SVOD services like Amazon Prime to pay for shows like “Under the Dome” before they even begin airing, securing the rights to “Thursday Night Football,” and is now attempting to drive demand for a new product are -- all moves that are light years ahead of what other networks are doing.
In a statement Monday, CBS Television Studios president David Stapf said, “There is no better time to give ‘Star Trek’ fans a new series than on the heels of the original show’s 50th anniversary celebration. Everyone here has great respect for this storied franchise, and we’re excited to launch its next television chapter in the creative mind and skilled hands of Alex Kurtzman, someone who knows this world and its audience intimately.”