Paramount’s Star Trek Move is not Viewer Extortion

Newly named Writer/Producer Nicholas Meyer

Newly named Writer/Producer Nicholas Meyer

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.”

Star Trek showrunner Bryan Fuller

Star Trek showrunner Bryan Fuller

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.

cbs-all-accessThat 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.

 

4 comments

  • David Young

    My question is (and I’m sure no one in any official capacity is going to definitely answer it at this point as, depending on the answer, it could undercut the whole purpose of their launching this new service this way): will the new “Star Trek” series *remain* exclusive to this new online service or will it eventually find it’s way onto other platforms such as 1) syndicated style reruns via traditional broadcast and/or one or more cable television stations, 2) release on DVD/Blu-Ray (in which case, those of us who still subscribe to Netflix’s DVD rental service should be able to get them that way if not buying them out right), 3) eventually showing up on Netflix streaming or one of the other non CBS exclusive streaming services (unlikely, I know; the rumors are already out there that all of the existing Star Trek shows might eventually disappear from Netflix steaming once the present contracts run out and then only be available for streaming via the new CBS paid service).

    I’m hoping that, at the very least, these episodes will *eventually* end up as syndicated reruns and on DVD/Blu-Ray, even if it might not be for several years after their initial release. It wouldn’t make much sense *not* to release them on multiple platforms as one would think that would mean intentionally forfeiting additional forms of revenue.

  • Deb

    As your loving wife, I am firmly on the side of “extortion.” $5.99 is way too much money for one show, but this is a debate that you and I have been having for years. 🙂

    On the whole, I see that unbundling channels and shows will actually cost us more from our collective wallet than it will save us money.

  • Linda Deneroff

    My problem isn’t extortion; it’s that I’m NOT going to subscribe to every streaming service out there just to watch one or two shows. I caught the first two episodes of Man in the High Castle for free on Amazon, but they want you to have a Prime account to view the rest. Phooey. So right now I’m keeping the cord for cable, and if it means missing the new Star Trek, well, I’m sure it will be out on Blu-Ray at some point.

  • Jim Kratzer

    I don’t buy HBO, Showtime, Netflix, or any of the other “Premium” channels. I have a full-non-Subscription Cable TV package (Sorry, no sports, either) with a high-speed Fiber Internet connection, and I REFUSE to submit to Extortion for ONE series (and I’ve been a Trekker since September, 1969, gentlemen). I tried Hulu and dropped it, too. Now, if you want to offer your series on iTunes, then I’ll pick the episodes up a day late; otherwise, I’ll just let it quietly die a natural death, and mourn the loss in my own way. But Paramount, Viacom, and CBS can keep your fingers OUT of my wallet – and YES, I know; $5.99 per month is less than what iTunes would probably charge per episode. But when I buy a full season of a series there, I download them and OWN them, and can watch them whenever I want, over and over – with no further charge, just as if I bought a DVD.

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