Will CBS All Access Kill Star Trek: Discovery?


CBS insisting on releasing ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ through their All Access streaming service has left many fans worried about the survivability of the new show.

Looking to cash in on the mega-successes of shows like ‘The Walking Dead’ and ‘Game of Thrones‘, CBS will be keeping Star Trek: Discovery to itself.

Sure, charging fans with a $5.99/mo fee (or $9.99/mo with no ads) to watch the new Trek series sounds like a great business model for the company; but is it sustainable?

Why are they doing this?

The answer is simple: money. AMC and HBO have become juggernauts of the television industry thanks to the success of hit shows like ‘The Walking Dead’, ‘Game of Thrones’, ‘Breaking Bad’…you get the idea.

These companies made enormous returns on their investments, and they did it by keeping almost everything in-house. Creating their own streaming services and limiting the legal avenues to watch the most up-to-date episodes, these companies have established a new golden standard in the market.

Finance the show yourself, market it yourself, and then restrict access to this content with a service you control.

It’s not a bad business model, and from a money making standpoint it makes a lot of sense for CBS to treat the new Trek show in this fashion. But is there optimistic idea really viable?

The Plan.


Chief Exec. Les Moonves

laid out a plan

for the company back in 2016. Their goal was simple: create an in-house streaming service for all




series’ that fans could pay to access.

This plan follows the same business model as HBO, AMC, HuluAmazon Prime, and Netflix. Only, those companies have something CBS doesn’t: regular high-quality and exclusive content.

Sure there are the occasional ‘hits‘, but by-and-large the shows featured on the CBS/Showtime streaming service are standard procedurals that you would watch on regular cable. Nothing exclusive and nothing ‘high quality’.

But even with the odds stacked against them, Moonves set a goal for the company to hit 8 million paid subscribers by 2020.

That might sound like a lot, but in reality….it isn’t.

The Numbers Don’t Lie.

Let’s take a look at the two biggest streaming companies on the market: HBO and Netflix.

According to Statista, HBO peaked with over 49 million US subscribers in 2016, with Netflix edging out a close victory at 50 million. 

For the sake of argument, let’s say all of those Netflix subscribers use the ‘2-screens’ at a time model with costs $9.99/mo. That would mean Netflix earned $500 million dollars last year from subscribers alone.

Initially, Netflix and HBO pulled in a consumer base by offering exclusive content for a low monthly charge. Then, as their consumer base grew these companies could re-invest this money and continue to create their own top-tier content.

Eventually leading to both companies becoming titans of the streaming industry.

So where does this leave CBS?

In a recent interview with ‘Seeking Alpha,’ Les Moonves came out to investors and stated that collectively the CBS/Showtime streaming service has around 2 million paid subscribers.

“With more than 2 million subs between them already, we are confident that this [8 million subs goal] will be easily achieved,” he said.

“It’s also safe to say that Star Trek will lead to a significant bump in subscribers for CBS All Access here in the U.S.”

Moonves seems confident that these numbers will shoot through the roof once ‘Discovery‘ hits, but even if it maxes out the 8 million subscriber goal it still might not be enough.

During its original airing, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 7 was pulling in 11-13 million viewers per episode. 

Locking down ‘Discovery‘ to the CBS cable channel and the All Access service will serve a critical blow to its ratings, and its survivability on the network.

Even CBS understands this risk, which is why they signed a deal with Netflix to air the show internationally.

What does this mean for Discovery?

Star Trek: Discovery Logo. (CBS, Press Release)

I feel that CBS is putting the future of ‘Discovery‘ in jeopardy so they can potentially make a quick buck from their streaming service.

This company using one of the most beloved franchises’ in history as a money making machine will NOT work out in the end.

Yes, some fans will pay the service charge for a few months just so they can watch the episodes as they air.

The rest will either pirate, stream through an extension for Netflix International, or wait until the DVD/Blu-ray releases. All of which will skew the rating numbers and lead to an eventual cancellation.

NEXT: Star Trek Is The Greatest Science Fiction Franchise Of All Time

What do you think? Are you excited about Star Trek: Discovery getting an exclusive CBS All Access release in the US? Are you just as worried as we are? Let us know on Facebook or in the comments below.