Ensuring there’s a Star Trek on all year round for CBS All Access will oversaturate the fanbase and cause fans to tune out.
There’s already too much Star Trek on at the moment. With Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard and Star Trek: Lower Decks already on the air (as of August 6) that’s already plenty of Trek. Then fans will get Star Trek: Prodigy and Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. That’s not all, as a Section 31 show that was set to start filming after season three of Discovery finished production but that was pre-pandemic.
That’s six series all on at the same time. With more potentially on the way. When Trek was at its peak, there were never more than two series on at the same time. That was in an era where there was less content to consume as well. Not to mention where a channel like Sci-Fi (now SyFy) would have succeeded with the influx of new content. Now there’s too many cable channels, with too many streaming service attachments and too many free options out there.
There’s just too much content to have a multi-series franchise that airs year-round. Turns out fans aren’t only invested in one thing.
Yet, CBS All Access has failed to really garner an audience outside of Trek, so instead of optioning out series to other channels, dolling them out years apart, shows have been greenlit faster than normal. All of this content on one outlet, that really doesn’t do much to move the franchise forward, is causing fans to resent the new series. When ViacomCBS chief digital officer Marc Debevoise talked to Decider, the idea of year-round content for Star Trek came up, and Debevoise talked about interest in Star Trek.
We will have 23 straight weeks of original episodes starting Thursday with Star Trek: Lower Decks, which is an animated comedy from one of the writers on Rick and Morty. There’s huge interest in the show. It’s the most trailer views we’ve ever gotten for an original series. That runs for 10 weeks, and then Discovery will start the week after and run for 13 weeks. Star Trek: Picard Season 2 will be ready sometime in 2021.
Debevoise was very vague about the idea of year-round Trek, despite it possibly being the goal for ViacomCBS. A goal that the execs may know would backfire. How could they not? Look at the Arrowverse on the CW. At one time the three main shows were all doing gangbusters in the ratings. Then they kept adding more and more to the lineup, making people give more and more time to the universe.
With so much to consume, fans demanded quality over quantity and when shows began to wain, fans left in mass. Now a good week will see a million viewers for something that was getting two or three times that.
Trek is pretty contentious right now among the fanbase. The possibility that the fans you have tune out if you give them too much to consume is not just a real possibility but a guaranteed fact. Shows, even with no direct competitors, often lose chunks of their base over time. So imagine what will happen if you give too many things to fans too fast and they end up rejecting it. Now you’re not just trying to win back some of the fans, but most of the fans.
ViacomCBS seems just fine with running the series into the ground to get All Access up and running. Trek needs to be whittled down a lot if it’s going to maintain it’s viewer base.