CBS Corp. might be jumping into a new medium by launching an original series on a Netflix-like platform. But that doesn’t mean CBS All Access is turning into Netflix.
Instead, when Trekkies and subscribers tune in to the new Star Trek series in January, they won’t get to binge every episode over a long weekend. In fact, they’ll have to wait a full week before they can see the next episode.
And then a full week after that to see the third. And then a full … you get what we mean.
Les Moonves, the chairman of CBS, has confirmed what many television observers knew already — the new Star Trek series will air just one new episode per week on the premium streaming service. It “will be episodic,” Moonves said, according to TrekCore. “It won’t be the Netflix” way.
It doesn’t mean you can’t binge the first season of the new Star Trek series. You’d just have to wait until next April or so to do it — after all the episodes have been released.
“Every other streaming service was after Star Trek,” Moonves said. “We could have cashed in for a lot of money, selling it to Netflix, Amazon, Hulu. They were all very interested in it.”
Netflix really was the first to break out with original programming, starting first with an import, the mobster comedy “Lillyhammer,” and then moving on to much bigger guns like “House of Cards” and Kate Mulgrew’s “Orange is the New Black.” Yet, instead of doling out episodes week-by-week, Netflix at least chose to release full seasons at once, helping to move DVD binge-watching into the realm of online streaming binge-watching.
CBS All Access, which subscribers can pick up for about $5 per month, already has a lot of the CBS library available, including many of the network’s current shows, like “The Good Wife.” The subscription cost also is cheaper than a Netflix membership, but many of the programs on All Access come with commercials.
Many observers had already believed the new Star Trek series was going to be released weekly because of a number of factors. First, casting hasn’t even officially started yet. And set construction isn’t scheduled to begin until Sept. 1, when CBS takes possession of some massive soundstage space at Pinewood Toronto Studios in Canada.
Even at this pace, filming wouldn’t likely begin until October or November. It’s near impossible to film and produce a full season in just two months — especially in a space-faring series like Star Trek, which would require a tremendous amount of post-production work.
Also giving clues is the fact that CBS planned to release a new original series every quarter, suggesting Moonves is more interested in the HBO approach — have a new series ready to begin, once another ends. That happened late last month when HBO’s new 1970s show “Vinyl” ended just in time for the season premiere of “Game of Thrones.” And when “Game of Thrones” ends, HBO will have another series ready to go, most likely “Ballers” or possibly even “Westworld.”
CBS didn’t break out its All Access revenue with its quarterly financial report, but as a whole, the company earned $3.85 billion in revenue over the first three months of the year, up 10 percent from the same period last year. That produced a profit of $473 million, the company told the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, up 20 percent over the previous year where CBS reported a profit of $394 million.
“We know that Star Trek is a high-priced, quality product,” Moonves told investors. “Knowing that, we will have very strong international sales, which we are already getting in — it’s important that we show everybody that All Access is a priority for us.
“And there are a lot of very rabid Star Trek fans who are going to sign up for it.”