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Netflix, Sky 1 Compete For U.K. Trek Rights

The bidding war to get new TV series tough in Britain

Americans already know where they will be able to find the new Star Trek series in January (hint: CBS All Access). But Trekkies in the United Kingdom have been waiting and waiting to find out how they can watch the series.

It's been a bidding war to capture the show, TV Wise's Patrick Munn reports, but it seems the two top contenders are longtime Trek home Sky 1, and a newcomer that recently secured all the past Star Trek television rights — Netflix U.K.

"There are few broadcasters who haven't shown any interest here," Munn said. However, those making the most serious effort are the Sky satellite company, Syfy U.K., and Netflix U.K.

Syfy is almost certainly out of the running, but Sky 1 is just inches from securing the rights. The deal, Munn said, was almost done. That would continue a streak for Sky 1 that has given it original Star Trek broadcast rights all the way back to "Star Trek: The Next Generation" in the 1990s.

But Netflix, which lost out to CBS' own competing subscription streaming service in the United States, is keen to not lose the Trek broadcast rights again. The British version of Netflix recently picked up re-transmission rights to all the past Star Trek series, but the new program wasn't part of that contract. That hasn't stopped Netflix, which has made a strong push to get the new series, even if it means displaying Sky 1.

Putting Star Trek on Netflix will put Brits in about the same situation as American viewers, requiring a monthly subscription to an online viewing service in order to view. But Netflix might be a more attractive choice to CBS Corp., especially since a quarter of the United Kingdom's population — or 5 million households — are now subscribed to the service, according to The Guardian.

That puts Netflix well ahead the 1.6 million subscribers to Amazon, and fewer than 1 million signed up for Sky's Now TV. Sky, however, says its streaming service is meant only to be a cheaper alternative for those who don't want to subscribe to the satellite's television package.

However, even the best-viewed Sky 1 programs attract less than 3 million viewers. While that's more than half of Netflix's total subscriber base in the United Kingdom, it seems Netflix is only growing. It added 1.4 million subscribers in 2015, nearly as much if not more than its other streaming competitors.

A decision is likely coming soon, and could arrive before the end of the month.

The new series debuts in January first on CBS and then on CBS All Access. It's being run by Bryan Fuller, and includes writers like Nicholas Meyer and Joe Menosky.

UPDATED 7/7/16, 2:29 a.m., to correct source information for story.

Source: TV Wise


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