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CBS Will Launch A New “Star Trek” TV Series On Its Streaming Service, Not Network TV

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CBS’s own over-the-top streaming service aimed at cord cutters has largely flown under the radar in comparison with more popular competitors like Netflix and Hulu. But now the network is hoping to change that, with the announcement that it will launch a brand-new “Star Trek” TV show exclusively on CBS All Access, the company’s on-demand streaming service. The show’s episodes, outside of a special preview broadcast, will not be available on CBS’s television network, the company says.

Instead, only those who pay for CBS All Access will be able to watch the new series, here in the U.S.

Alex Kurtzman, who also co-wrote and produced “Star Trek” (2009) with Roberto Orci, and “Star Trek Into Darkness” (2013) with Orci and Damon Lindelof, has signed on to serve as exec producer for the new “Star Trek” series along with Heather Kadin. Kurtzman already has a relationship with CBS, as he is also an executive producer for other CBS shows like “Scorpion,” “Limitless,” and “Hawaii Five-O.”

Little is being revealed about the series itself, except that it will introduce new characters who are continuing to seek out new worlds and new civilizations, CBS’s announcement states. It’s also not related to the upcoming film “Star Trek Beyond,” notes the network.

The series will be the fifth following the original series than ran on NBC from 1966-67. Other “Star Trek” series included “The Next Generation” (1987-1994), “Deep Space Nine” (1993-99), “Voyager:(1995-2001), and “Enterprise” (2001-05).

CBS All Access already offers every episode of all previous series.

“There is no better time to give ‘Star Trek’ fans a new series than on the heels of the original show’s 50th anniversary celebration,” said David Stapf, President, CBS Television Studios, in a release. “Everyone here has great respect for this storied franchise, and we’re excited to launch its next television chapter in the creative mind and skilled hands of Alex Kurtzman, someone who knows this world and its audience intimately.”

The only bad news…well, beyond the monthly price tag? CBS says the new show won’t launch until January 2017.

The CBS All Access service is available today via the CBS app on iOS, Android and Windows 10 and is through connected devices like Apple TV, Android TV, Chromecast, and Roku. For $5.99 per month, subscribers can access 7,500 episodes from the current television season, previous seasons and classic shows on-demand nationwide. Non-subscribers are still able to watch some CBS TV clips and shows in the app, but not as many.

The promise of a new “Stark Trek” series could prove to be a big draw for fans, some of whom feel the concept works better as a TV show rather than in feature films. (An informal poll around TechCrunch found that our resident Trek fans would, indeed, cough up the subscription fee to watch more “Star Trek.”)

The delay in expanding the “Star Trek” universe through another TV property has had a lot to do with the complicated rights surrounding the nearly 50-year old franchise. CBS controls the TV side of the franchise thanks to its ownership of the Paramount TV library, explains Variety, which is how this is possible.

The move makes sense for CBS, which has been betting big on more sci-fi and fantasy shows in recent months. For example, the premiere of its new drama “Supergirl” did even better than expected, making it fall TV’s top new show. It then used “Supergirl’s” opening to push another techie-filled series, “Scorpion,” which hit a five-week high thanks to its lead-in – the best since its season premiere, Variety also reported.

Those series would have similar audience demographics as the forthcoming “Star Trek,” giving CBS an opportunity to establish its own niche in the streaming landscape if handled correctly.

But we should note that CBS’s push of its streaming service is something of a departure for the network, which has practically crippled All Access in the past by making some of its best content unavailable. 

While the service today offers access to a number of current seasons and past seasons for a variety of CBS Shows, including “The Good Wife” and “Blue Bloods,” for example, as well as older shows like “CSI: Miami” or “MacGyver,” its few subscribers are likely frustrated to find that some of CBS’s current shows can’t be viewed in their entirety, including past seasons.

For instance, All Access today only offers clips or a limited number of episodes on-demand for a couple of its most-watched shows, “Big Bang Theory” and “2 Broke Girls,” even for its paying subscribers. (You can watch all 6 of “Big Bang’s” Season 9 episodes to date, but nothing else. “2 Broke Girls” only has 8 clips.) 

And it’s unclear to potential new subscribers which CBS shows will offer full seasons and back catalogs, and which won’t. 

Meanwhile, CBS has oddly bet instead on making live TV streams – that is, linear TV – available on mobile and connected devices. By July, it said its live TV coverage reached 75 percent of the U.S., thanks to its growing lineup of affiliate partnerships. Today, live TV coverage is available in more than 110 markets across the U.S., the network says.

In addition to being available on CBS All Access, the new “Star Trek” show will also be distributed to a worldwide audience by CBS Studios International though television and other services.

Featured Image: Kreg Steppe/Flickr UNDER A CC BY-SA 2.0 LICENSE