CBS announced this morning that it will release a new “Star Trek” TV series in January, 2017. But in a novel approach, the premier episode will be previewed on the CBS Television Network but will then move to CBS All Access, where it and all subsequent episodes will be exclusively available for U.S. audiences. That makes the new “Star Trek” the first TV series CBS has developed specifically for CBS All Access, the company’s $5.99/month SVOD service.
“Star Trek” will separately be distributed globally for TV and other platforms by CBS Studios International.
CBS has not shared any subscriber details on CBS All Access since its launch in October, 2014. In the “Star Trek” press release, Marc Debevoise, EVP/GM, CBS Digital Media said CBS All Access has “experienced terrific growth” which it expects to accelerate with “Star Trek.”
CBS’s decision to place the high profile “Star Trek” on SVOD instead of its broadcast network is the latest sign of how expensive scripted original programming has become central to the competitive dynamics among OTT subscription services including Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, HBO Now, Showtime and many others. These services are all vying for a share of viewers’ wallets as they contemplate the ever-widening range of online entertainment options. Must-see original programming is considered the most compelling way to attract and retain subscribers.
For CBS, SVOD also represents a hedge against the ad-supported broadcast TV model, which is under-pressure from all sides. It’s also a bargaining chip with pay-TV operators in retransmission consent negotiations. With “Star Trek” going to CBS All Access, the service will be higher-profile and no doubt have more subscribers, in turn providing further incentive for would-be cord-cutters.