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CBS’ Les Moonves Explains Decision To Make New STAR TREK VOD Only

We finally have an explanation from CBS as to why their newest Star Trek series will boldly go where no other Star Trek has gone before–exclusively to video-on-demand.

CBS Corp. president and CEO Les Moonves told reporters during a third-quarters earnings conference call that Star Trek is a “family jewel” that will be used to help “build up” CBS All Access, their SVOD (streaming video on demand) service. He noted that that CBS will remain a “good partner” with Netflix and Hulu, but also a competitor.

“We’re looking to do original content on All Access and build up that platform,” said Moonves. “Netflix is our friend, a competitor. They compete with [CBS Corp.’s] Showtime. All Access will put out original content and knowing the loyalty of Star Trek fans, this will boost it. There’s about a billion channels out there and because of Star Trek, people will know what All Access is about.”

It’s hard to argue with the general idea. Star Trek fans are extremely passionate, and many will undoubtedly subscribe to All Access if it is their only way to watch a new series. All Access is currently $6 per month and can be streamed via Roku, Chromecast, Android, and Apple TV. Moonves says they could soon potentially offer an ad-free subscription at $9.99 per month too.

The CBS CEO also talked about the financial possibilities internationally. “All the series have done well in terms of streaming,” he said. “Added in to that, Star Trek is a huge international franchise. Our international distribution guy is going crazy; he can’t wait to get out to the marketplace and sell that. Right away, we’re more than halfway home on the cost of the show from international alone. The risk is small in seeing the track record. We think it’ll be great and bring in a lot more subscribers. We’re really excited about it.”

This new Star Trek, which is not scheduled to debut until January of 2017, will be CBS All Access’ first original series, but according to Moonves not the last.

The future of television is now the present. Streaming-only sites are captivating audiences and winning awards with original content, and now one of the major networks is using an iconic series to promote its own VOD service instead of its actual television station. We are getting ever closer to the destruction of the established cable package as we know it. If professional sports make the change, it could be the final death knell for cable companies everywhere.

It’s also interesting to hear Moonves talk about the influence of the international market and its impact on the bottom line. This has been an ever-growing reality when it comes to filmmaking. Could we start to see television/VOD shows start to follow the same pattern, where companies are factoring in a worldwide audience and their financial impact as much as quality or just the American audience. Or is this simply a matter of an already established franchise that has an international market being the logical starting point rather than an indicator of where things are heading?

It’s all fascinating for fans of television, and it is fitting it will be Star Trek that seeks out new platforms givens the series’ exploratory spirit.

So is CBS correct? Will you pay to watch the new Star Trek? Tell us in the comments below.

HT: The Hollywood Reporter

Image: CBS

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