Trekkies, the next frontier is in the streams.
CBS has announced an all new Star Trek TV series, which “will introduce new characters seeking imaginative new worlds and new civilizations.” It’s not known just how this series will exist alongside the new era of Star Trek from producer/director JJ Abrams, but what is clear is that CBS is banking on the franchise’s pull to help its fledgling streaming service along.
This won’t be just any TV series. CBS will debut the inaugural episode of the untitled new series in January 2017 on its regular network stations, but that’s where the fun will end for regular viewers — the rest of the season will only be available via the company’s streaming service, CBS All Access.
The new series appears to be as much about capitalizing on the recent resurgence of one of the most storied sci-fi franchises of all time as it is about giving CBS a viable competitor to streaming services like Netflix. CBS’ press release for the announcement describes the new Star Trek series as “the first original series developed specifically for U.S. audiences for CBS All Access.” And a series with such mammoth name recognition and a built-in fan base appears to be a fantastic way to bring in new viewers.
There’s no word on any plot details or casting for the new series as of yet, but the press release did specify the new series will be “exploring the dramatic contemporary themes that have been a signature of the franchise since its inception in 1966.” The last two Star Trek films could give a better idea of what the CBS series will be as Alex Kurtzman will serve as executive producer of the show. Kurtzman co-wrote and co-produced Abrams’ Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek Into Darkness (2013).
The new series will debut in January 2017, just four months after the original series’ 50th anniversary on September 2016. CBS owns the rights to the old TV show, and claims people across the world have never stopped discovering it. “Every day, an episode of the ‘Star Trek’ franchise is seen in almost every country in the world,” said Armando Nuñez, President and CEO of CBS Global Distribution Group in the press release.
The original television series was promoted as “the first adult space adventure” and landed in homes on September 15 1966 on NBC. The series was cancelled after three struggling seasons and the rights to Star Trek were shuffled around, before finally landing at CBS. So far, it appears this dispute over property rights will keep the new series from connecting with Paramount’s own revival of the series in movie form, on which Abrams and Kurtzman collaborated.
Either way, CBS is putting a lot of chips into the future of streaming and has yet to reveal current subscriber numbers for CBS All Access, per usual practice among streaming services. However, five months after CBS’ All Access’ October 2014 debut, CBS CEO Leslie Moonves announced the streaming service had attracted over 100,000 subscribers. Will Trekkies be intrigued enough by the new series to follow it all the way to CBS’ streamer? We’ll have to wait and find out.
For now, here’s the first ever television promo for the original Star Trek series: