Is the boom era of Star Trek on streaming truly over?
Star Trek has seen a resurgence in recent years thanks to an unlimited budget from the good folks at CBS/Paramount. They launched their first streaming service, CBS-All Access, and later launched a second one, Paramount+ thanks to the merger with Viacom. Due to that, Star Trek got a huge kick in awareness. More shows were announced, with a variety of genres being covered.
Fans thought that this was the new normal. We here at Redshirts Always Die knew it wasn’t. Those unlimited budgets would eventually come back to bite the parent company in the butt, and they sure enough did. Shows were costing hundreds of millions of dollars for just 10 episodes, and the viewership numbers were never good enough to warrant that type of budget.
It didn’t help that even with the Showtime and Paramount+ merger, Paramount+ was never close to its goal of subscribers. Due to that changes had to be made. So the parent company over at Paramount made the call to start trashing some shows so they can take advantage of a tax credit. The tax credit would save the company more money than it would make if it produced shows.
So they canceled one of their most engaged and viewed properties, Star Trek: Prodigy, but believe it or not, it wasn’t the only show that was likely axed due to costs, as Picard and Discovery were also 86’ed.
While some will claim Picard was “only meant” to be a three-season show, Patrick Stewart, Akiva Goldsman, and others have said time and time again that they would do as many seasons as they could. And with the success of the third season, why wouldn’t Paramount+ want a fourth season? Because it wasn’t cost-effective to put that money into a show anymore.
The same is true about Discovery. It only got its five seasons because Paramount+ didn’t have any real worries about spending money. Now, with investors wanting to be paid back for their involvement and the check essentially coming due, Paramount+ could no longer justify bankrolling a show just for the sake of their portfolio. Sure, a show like Discovery looks good to investors and advertisers due to its dynamic and eclectic cast, but fans didn’t like the show and it’s the least watched of all the modern Trek shows.
So Paramount+ had to cancel the Star Trek vanity project that was Discovery.
Star Trek’s streaming era may have just burst
Three shows have ended, whether you want to believe the press releases that are sculpted to be as generic and inoffensive as possible is your business. But networks and streaming services don’t stop wringing out a property until it’s good and dry. The end of this era of Star Trek is here.
I don’t think Trek is going to be canceled out right, nor do I think many, if any shows currently airing are going to get the ax. I wouldn’t be surprised if they do, however. Especially Strange New Worlds, as it’s a very expensive show.
That said, what I do think will happen is that we’ll no longer see five shows active at once. I think once Lower Decks wraps up its current season, they’ll just focus on Strange New Worlds going forward, and maybe a second show.
Having Star Trek on in 50 of the 52 weeks is already over. Doomed by the idea that a streaming service could just spend money and never need to turn a profit. There will be another era though.
If Star Trek has proven anything, it’s that it’s resilient. We’ll get a few more shows over the next few years, and then some more movies. Then the shows will stop for a time and in a few years after, it’ll start all over again.