Yesterday's announcement that a reboot of the classic "Star Trek" television series would be coming to CBS in January 2017 likely made many a fan of the franchise circle that star date well in advance. With the success of the movie reboot by JJ Abrams, interest in space exploration riding high courtesy of NASA, billionaire ambitions, and even Matt Damon, it makes sense that CBS would jump at the opportunity to bring the franchise back to its smallscreen roots.
Of course, a lot has changed since William Shatner as Capt. Kirk led the first crew of the Starship Enterprise in the late 1960s. The living room television now shares time with laptops, smartphones, tablets and anything else that can stream media. We have Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Watch Instantly, HBO Now, and many other content providers all angling for our eyeballs. CBS wants your digital attention as well — and they're making "Star Trek" the bait.
After the first pilot episode of the new reboot airs, CBS will make each subsequent episode available only via their CBS All Access online subscription service. This is either a crazy or brilliant move, with the outcome dependent on just how many people are willing to shell out $5.99/month for the privilege. Reaction to the news has been mixed, with some fans launching a petition asking CBS to drop the streaming restriction.
"We represent the group of people who wish you reconsider the exclusivity of your new series to your streaming app," writes one fan. "To deny a mass audience a new Star Trek series would only result in stymieing a potentially huge resurgence in the franchise ... and not to mention it's not really in line with the prime directive."
While CBS rules the ratings on television, it definitely is not a major player on the streaming scene. That crown belongs to Netflix and its almost 70 million worldwide subscribers. By 2016, however, the home of "House of Cards" and "Orange is the New Black" is expected to exceed the major broadcast networks in total viewership. If CBS wants to keep pace, it needs a hook like "Star Trek" to get people to open their wallets even more.
“We’ve experienced terrific growth for CBS All Access, expanding the service across affiliates and devices in a very short time," Marc DeBevoise, executive vice president/general manager of CBS Digital Media said in a statement. "We now have an incredible opportunity to accelerate this growth with the iconic 'Star Trek,' and its devoted and passionate fan base, as our first original series.”
The new series will be executive produced by Alex Kurtzman, who co-wrote and produced the films "Star Trek" (2009) and "Star Trek Into Darkness" (2013). According to the release, the new series will not be related to the next major film in the franchise, "Star Trek Beyond," slated for 2016.