CBS failing with Star Trek


CBS says that Star Trek is the most valuable franchise they have, and yet they continue to make decisions that harm the Trek brand.

Let me start off by saying that I’ve tried very hard to be positive on Star Trek: Discovery and CBS. I have defended CBS and their decisions on Star Trek for over a year, mostly because I wanted to believe that they really valued Trek and the franchise had a bright new future at the network. Unfortunately the time for optimism has now passed; it’s impossible to continue to overlook and excuse CBS’ blunders.

CBS has done all it can to make enemies of Trekkies, which is absolutely insane for a network that claims that Star Trek is the future of their streaming service. A lot of the Trekkie anger can of course be traced back to CBS’ decision to put Star Trek on their streaming service CBS All Access instead of on CBS itself. CBS says they made this decision because they wanted Star Trek: Discovery to be the tentpole of their service, but there are big problems.

First of all the service is bad, it’s just all around bad. The buffering and crashing of the app is ridiculous and the app itself isn’t even available on all smart televisions. Then there’s the fact that their service has a limited catalog, and yet they are charging almost as much as Netflix. Netflix’s prices have gone up a bit recently, but they started low and with a huge catalog. If you want to compete in the streaming market you better either be priced right, bring tons of content, or have insanely high quality content like HBO. CBS All Access has none of these, but it gets even worse.

CBS All Access has commericals. CBS not only wants you to pay for their service, they want to make you watch commericals too. To me this is CBS trying to charge for an online service, while still trying to think as an old school network. This is like newspapers complaining that they don’t make any money online when they try to charge for subscriptions for their online editions, that’s just not how it works anymore. Sure there’s a commercial free version of CBS All Access, but it costs even more.

Seriously though, the MacGyver remake, which is terrible, gets on the network but Star Trek doesn’t?

Another problem in the CBS and Star Trek fan relationship is the Axanar debacle. I’m no Axanar fanboy, I think the Axanar team has spent the money they raised from Star Trek fans in extremely shady ways, but the network couldn’t have handled this worse. CBS and Paramount sued Axanar and instead of attacking them on the fact that they spent fan donations on things other than the production they attacked them for making a Star Trek fan film. Of course the lawsuit itself had to be focused on CBS and Paramount owning the Star Trek brand, but they could have explained it to the fans much better.

As a result of all this CBS and Paramount came out with new rules for Star Trek fan films. The rules were ridiculous and overly restrictive. Some of them may not have even been legal. So once again CBS attacks the Star Trek fans. Remember that through all this CBS is  saying that Trekkies are the key to their success in the streaming market.

Now we come to Star Trek’s 50th anniversary and CBS’ lack of concern. I understand that Star Trek originally aired on NBC and so CBS doesn’t want to mention that too much, but doing next to nothing to celebrate the milestone was a huge mistake. CBS had a panel or two, but didn’t really do anything to acknowledge the 50th anniversary of their “family jewel” other than that. The Star Trek fans of course saw this as yet another insult.

Finally we come to Star Trek: Discovery and the loss of Bryan Fuller. We don’t know the full story on why Fuller left Star Trek, but we do know that it’s a huge blow to the series. CBS should have done everything they could to keep Fuller and the plan intact. We don’t know any details, but this feels like another “this is too Trek, we need more action” kind of decision. Others on the staff, like Nicholas Meyer, know Star Trek as well as Fuller, but it still feels like a gut shot.

Perhaps all this will blow over and CBS will get it right with Star Trek: Discovery; I’m not going to judge the show until I see it. But there’s no denying that CBS has placed a lot of obstacles in the path of Discovery. In order for Discovery to succeed now it’s going to need to be phenomenal and CBS is going to have to try to win back the fans they have alienated.

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So what do you think? Do you think CBS is mismanaging Star Trek: Discovery? Let us know on Facebook or in the comments below.