Star Trek: Discovery was not a success, it was just the cheaper alternative.
Some people really want to rewrite history. I don’t understand why, especially when we have things like stats and facts to stand on. So when people go out of their way to say things like Star Trek: Discovery was a “success”, I have no idea what you’re talking about. By all metrics to evaluate Discovery, it was not a success.
Now, I don’t like telling people they can’t like something. If you like Discovery, bully for you. No shame in that. I too have liked things that were objectively bad and or disappointing. There’s no shame there, but that doesn’t mean we can rewrite the facts on the matter, Discovery was not a successful show.
In fact, one could argue that if it wasn’t for the fact that streaming services were just throwing gobs of money at all sorts of properties, good bad, or otherwise, that Discovery wouldn’t have seen a second season. If Discovery was a television product and not a streaming product, there was no way that the show was going to get five seasons.
Why is Star Trek: Discovery not a success?
Success is measured in a lot of ways, but specifically, success in streaming and or television is defined by popularity, quality, longevity, growth, and revenue brought in.
As far as popularity goes, despite what Rotten Tomatoes critics would tell you, the show has not been popular. We know this because it rarely, if ever, hit any major markers for streaming since it debuted. Nielsen Ratings are now doing streaming, so we’ll know far more about that when season five releases next year, but until then it’s pretty clear that it’s the least popular of the Star Trek shows, and we have some evidence to support that already.
Secondly, outside of season three, even Discovery fans admit that the show has been weak. Many fans will say season three was a standout season for Star Trek as a whole, but with this being a series with a continuous storyline from episode to episode, you can’t just jump to season three. You have to watch the subpar first two seasons first. And many fans of the show’s third season will tell how rough those first two seasons are.
As far as longevity goes, five seasons sounds like a lot, but 65 episodes do not. Now, if you only go five seasons, and do 10 episodes per season, that’s one thing, but the failure to go beyond five seasons is in fact a problem, specifically because had the show stayed consistent, they’d be at 75 episodes right now. Why is that?
Point four, the show had its budget reduced season, after season, after season. Usually, when you have a hit show, you add episodes to the show as the budget gets bigger. With streaming services throwing ungodly amounts of money at properties that they expect to raise their profile, to see a streaming service cut the budget of a show after just one season is pretty evident proof that the show was not meeting expectations financially through viewership.
But since streaming services up until 2022 were basically writing blank checks for anything they can get on their platform exclusively, Discovery was allowed to continue. And here comes the final metric by which we judge success; the show did not make any money. How do we know this? Because it went from CBS All Access, which failed and had to be merged with Viacom to create Paramount+. Paramount+ has never turned a profit and is now merging with the Showtime streaming service to better budget resources and money.
Shows like Walking Dead and Game of Thrones were obviously successful, because they rose the financial value of their distributors year after year. Discovery was never able to do so.
Discovery was not a success. In fact, the nicest thing we said about the show was that it was a survivor. If it wasn’t even more expensive to just cancel the series and replace it with something newer, it probably wouldn’t have lasted as long as it did.
And its failure wouldn’t have hurt Star Trek any, it just may have delayed things. After all, the original series failed. The sequel series (Phase 2) failed. Half of the films have failed. Star Trek is adept at surviving failure. So yes, Star Trek would’ve been fine if Discovery had been canceled sooner.
For there will always be a Star Trek story worth telling, no matter what flops around them.