Paramount’s Star Trek Move is not Viewer Extortion
Variety broke the news on Friday that Nicholas Meyer had been signed to be a consulting producer and writer for Paramount’s new Star Trek series. I shared the news on my Facebook page because, to me, this gives me great confidence in the thinking going into the show. First you have Bryan Fuller, a proven Trek fan and solid television showrunner. Now you add in novelist/screenwriter/director Meyer with more interesting announcements to come.
However, one of the posters wrote, “CBS can go straight to hell if they think I’m going to pony up for one channel just to see the next Star Trek series. Fans will get to see the premier episode than have to cough up $5.99 a month to see the rest? This is nothing more than extortion and double-dipping by #CBS and I’ll be damned if they’re going to reach into my pocket more than I pay now for their service via satellite.”
What he refuses to acknowledge is that this is the new paradigm. Everyone is generating original content to get you to throw money their way. It’s been pretty much that way since HBO created their first documentary or movie back in the 1970s and has only grown.
I wrote about some of this before but think it bears repeating as the new show takes on shape and grows closer to a reality.
Today, you are being asked by Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Acorn, and others to subscribe to watch shows tailored or a wide variety of audiences. As a result, the cord cutting is accelerating, aided by the advent of Google Chromecast and the Amazon Fire Stick. With the FCC poised to open the floodgates on set top box manufacture and sales, another wave of change is about to arrive.
Depending on your age, we grew up used to broadcast television delivered first by antenna then coaxial cable. Basic and premium channels followed, spelling the end of for over the air saturation as well as the Big Three’s dominance over content.
Parallel to most of this development has been Star Trek, used by Paramount as bait to lure viewers to new ventures. Remember, Star Trek was first intended as a revived television series for a proposed fourth network in the mid-1970s. Then a new Star Trek was created and when Paramount couldn’t get the deal they wanted, was used to launch a first-run syndicated revolution. The series has usually been in the forefront of home video options because its diehard audience tend to also be early adopters.
That Paramount/CBS waited until the series’ 51st year to launch its own portal feels a little late considering the competition but if CBS All-Access is going into the original content field, it’s only natural Star Trek will lead the way. Today, the channel offers their current shows next day along with a wealthy backlist of series from all five Star Treks to I Love Lucy.
Currently, they want $5.99 a month for this which isn’t bad. Now, if they add in a brand new Star Trek and keep the price, then it’s a nice deal. Their challenge will be delivering it in a way that people won’t sign up for a free trial or one month, binge the new show then cancel. And they have announced nothing about it.
It is anything but extortion but the new business model and the sooner we recognize this actually gives you greater control over your viewing dollars, the better.