It’s quite exciting news for Trekkers in the States, as CBS announced that they’ll be airing a brand new Star Trek TV series in January 2017.
Well, the first episode of it anyway, according to Hollywood Reporter, as all following episodes will be shown exclusively on their CBS All Access online service. In terms of boldly going, this decision to air online-only certainly fits the bill, but will a more casual audience be prepared to spring for the monthly fee?
Obviously this won’t be the first time that Star Trek has struggled to find an audience – the original adventures of the USS Enterprise were cancelled the first time around in the late Sixties due to low ratings. Syndicating the original series breathed new life into the franchise, leading as we all know to no less than four more TV series and a long-lasting series of films.
The last TV series, Enterprise, went off the air ten years ago, and it’s now felt that the time is right to re-introduce serial drama in the Star Trek universe. It’s being overseen by Alex Kurtzman, who has been among the higher-ups which revived the film reboot in 2009, leading to much debate as to whether the new series will follow the re-established timeline or go back to life as we first knew it.
50 Years of Trek
By the time the new show airs, we’ll have passed a massive milestone in the history of Star Trek, celebrating 50 years since it first came on the air. As a massive fan of the original films (well, the even-numbered ones anyway) and a fairly avid watcher of the subsequent TV series, this announcement does rather excite me. But seeing as I’m all the way over here in Britain, where and when can I expect to see the programme air?
That’s an interesting one. It’s become common for British on-demand platforms to win the exclusive rights to air TV shows – I’m eagerly awaiting the day my fiancée finally signs up to Amazon Prime so that I can see Mr Robot – but as of yet it’s a mystery. Come to think of it, the fact that different sets of Star Trek rights now belong to completely different companies is a whole other headache.
When Viacom merged with CBS in 2000, the rights to Star Trek TV and film were split between the two, tearing Paramount asunder, with CBS picking up the TV production privileges and Viacom getting films. CBS were first out of the gate by launching – and soon ending – Enterprise, while the film went into production in the mid-2000s.
Giving exclusive airing rights to a streaming platform in an attempt to convince Trekkers with their five dollars a month is an absolute no-brainer, but here in the UK where I’ve literally heard of All Access for the first time today, it’s hard to tell whether a more casual audience can be tempted.
I’m quite excited for the TV future of Star Trek – mainly because we all know by now what I made of the movie reboot – but it’s going to be a tough sell for many viewers.