STAR TREK CONTINUES becomes a CBS All Access AFFILIATE!

Things got very interesting on Sunday morning after STAR TREK CONTINUES posted this message on their Facebook page overnight:

Got CBS All Access yet? STC has been invited to join the affiliate program, so you can sign up through our website now. Sign up today!

Almost immediately, fans started conjecturing what this meant for STC.  Were they suddenly being accepted by CBS?  Would they now be allowed to complete their cancelled 12th and 13th episodes?  Were they getting a kickback from CBS?  Would STC be shown on All Access?

The answers to all of these questions appear to be “no.”  Apparently, STC was simply contacted by a division of CBS (likely CBS Interactive or else someone in marketing) and offered the option of becoming a CBS All Access Affiliate, promoting subscriptions to the network’s streaming service through online banners on their startrekcontinues.com website.  (Note to CBS Interactive: the hyperlinks aren’t working from Mac browsers.)

It’s unclear whether or not STC will be receiving a commission for any fans who sign up for CBS All Access.  STC posted on their Facebook pages that they are not being compensated.  However, I just signed up Fan Film Factor for the same program and was required to agree to terms that included the following (which I screen capped)…

So it’s unclear how one would sign up to be an affiliate through this program and not be paid the commission.  (For more information about the CBS All Access Affiliate Program, click here.)

Some fans raised an eyebrow when they noticed the words “invited to join” in the STC announcement.  But according to James Hams of trekfanproductions.com, “Trekgeeks, TrekZone and STC were asked to be affiliates…these 3 have like thousands of people to help pull in new signups.”  That actually makes sense for STC, whose website has 200K-300K visits per month, but the other two sites have less than 5K (possibly significantly  less, as the SimilarWeb.com tracking site doesn’t provide data for sites that fall under 5K).

But to be honest, it makes sense that CBS Interactive would reach out to a wide range of Trek fan sites like Trek Today and TrekMovie.com to blanket the demographic with affiliate advertising.  After all, it’s free unless and until there is a conversation of sale, in which case, the ad has paid for itself anyway.

As for whether or not this will have any specific effect on fan films, remember that CBS is a very LARGE corporation, All Access is being handled through CBS Interactive, and the guidelines fall under CBS Consumer Products Licensing.  So no, I doubt STC‘s (or any fan film’s) involvement as an affiliate would have any effect on their treatment should they violate the guidelines in any significant way.

I did reach out to STC on Sunday to ask for an interview, but as of right now, I have not heard anything back.  I am curious to know how they were contacted and whom by, and if they were given an alternative pathway to register as an affiliate that did not require them agreeing to terms of payment of $9.00 per confirmed sale (because the system seems to be automated).

In the meantime, I did find one final thing very interesting…and perhaps something that CBS marketing might want to take notice of: negativity.

I’m writing this blog entry at 10:00 pm Pacific Time Sunday night…24 hours after the announcement was posted by STC to their Facebook page.  And the comments were coming in fast and furious (mostly furious) all day long.  More than 200 primary comments have been posted posted with another 100 or so replies to various ones.  And just on a lark, I counted how many posts were positive toward All Access and Star Trek: Discovery, how many were negative, and how many were either neutral or unrelated.  And here’s what I found:

  • 31 POSITIVE posts
  • 91 NEGATIVE posts
  • 189 NEUTRAL posts

The positive posts were mostly things like “I plan to subscribe” or “I’m really looking forward to this new show” or “I’m already a subscriber.”  The negative posts were anything from a short “No” or “Nope” to explosive rants about the audacity of making fans pay to see Star Trek on TV (with commercials, no less!), how much Discovery was going to suck, and how they were already paying for things like Netflix and Hulu and Amazon and didn’t see a reason to subscribe to yet another service.  Some people were going to wait for the DVD/Blu-ray, and about 7% were discussing/providing ways to acquire the episodes in a less than legal way.

As for the “neutrals,” those were posts that didn’t commit one way or the other to either subscribing or not.  Some of these posts simply asked questions like “What is the Affiliate Program?” or “Does this mean STC will…?” (insert question about the future here).  There were, of course, posts bashing Alec Peters and Axanar (although not nearly as many as I get here…I was surprised), posts bashing the “LGBT liberal slant” of the new series (seriously?), and ones simply pointing out that the new series would be available on Netflix outside of the U.S. and Canada.  And of course, about a fifth of those “neutral” posts were just people being nasty to each other because…yeah…this is the Internet.

For me, though, I was mainly curious about how many fans of STC (which, one would assume, are the majority of folks visiting that Facebook page) were trash-talking All Access and Discovery now that STC was an affiliate…and how many were planning to jump on board the All Access bandwagon.

And these results should be VERY concerning to CBS.

The 3-to-1 ratio of outright negativity might be expected on the Axanar Facebook page, with Axanerds still resentful over the lawsuit.  But with STC, they have always purported to have an excellent relationship with the studio(s), and even though the guidelines curtailed their series prematurely, fans only lost two of thirteen episodes…and it seems, at least for now, that CBS is looking the other way and allowing the final four episodes of STC to be released without a legal challenge.  So really, one would expect STC fans to be a bit less negative about CBS than a 3-to-1 ratio.

If this is a trend that expands outward beyond just STC to Star Trek fandom in general, that ratio represents the potential loss of revenue in the millions of subscribers and the tens of millions (possibly even hundreds of millions) of dollars!

Signing up affiliates is a good first step for CBS, and I applaud them for utilizing fandom, social media, and even fan films to help.  (See?  We CAN be useful!)  But will it be enough to overcome the headwinds of fan resistance?

As the late, great Yogi Berra said, “If the people don’t want to come out to the ballpark, there’s no way to stop them.”

58 thoughts on “STAR TREK CONTINUES becomes a CBS All Access AFFILIATE!”

  1. I will not go on to cbs website at all so you should not to. They want to view of your email and other things. So stay away from them please.

      1. I am not talking about this subject. I am telling you that when you go to there website then they can get your info of what they get from you. You will not like to go with there rules. Just look into it.

        1. Kenny that is not how websites nor the internet work. The only way for CBS to get your email address is to specifically sign up for something.

  2. Mr Lane, I’d like to address the assumptions of my site you have made in this article.

    similiarweb.com is not my analytics provider, therefore I cast significant doubt on your assertions of the volume of traffic to my site. Regardless, those figures would not weigh on their decision to offer and approve my site in their affiliation program because they only pay for subscriptions which result from clicking the links on my site.

    You and other Axanar supporters have seriously weighted this decision from CBS Interactive, perhaps because you and Axanar were not chosen?

    1. Call me Jonathan, Matthew! You did when I was on your show. 🙂

      I’m not surprised that CBS Interactive didn’t reach out to Alec Peters to have AxanarProductions.com become an affiliate. If there is ever future arbitration or another lawsuit, any cordial business relationship between the two parties when money/commissions are paid could muddy the waters legally and–as happened previously–lend support to a finding of non-willful infringement and/or minimal damages if things ever go to arbitration.

      As for CBS Interactive not coming to me, I’m not surprised by that either. I’ve been in contact with a person at CBS marketing who is aware of the my involvement in both Fan Film Factor and Small Access. And while she did tell me “everyone is entitled to their opinion” after looking at the Small Access Facebook protest group page, she wasn’t particularly thrilled with it…for obvious reasons. So I would actually have been fairly shocked (albeit flattered) if I HAD, in fact, been contacted to be an affiliate.

      However, I was curious to see what the sign-up process was like and whether or not it was possible to register and NOT be paid a commission. At least for me, the answer was no. I had to agree to a set of terms that included actions on both my part and theirs…and their responsibilities include paying $9.00 per confirmed sale (subscription sign-up to All Access) 30 days following the end of the month that the subscription sale is logged. Now, it’s possible they set up a separate contract for STC. Just curious, Matthew, did you go through their standard registration process on this page:

      https://member.impactradius.com/campaign-mediapartner-signup/CBS-All-Access.brand?execution=e1s1

      …or did you register in some other way or place?

      As for stats, SimilarWeb.com is usually pretty accurate for me. My own internal site measurements via Jetpack usually come right in the range of 30,000-50,000 page views per month (my daily range is usually between 500 and 2000 views per day…lower on weekends, higher on days when it’s an Axanar story)…which matches SimilarWeb’s stats pretty closely. As for the volume of traffic to your site, Matthew, if you want to screen cap your internal stats, I’m happy to post them. Here’s mine:

      Site Stats

  3. ” However, I just signed up Fan Film Factor for the same program and was required to agree to terms that included the following (which I screen capped)…”

    Why would someone, who launched a project, designed to minimize the number of people who signed up for All Access in an attempt to protest the Fan Film Guidelines, then turn and apply to be an affiliate to sell subscriptions to All Access????

    1. Well, I never said NOT to sign up for All Access…only to do it in groups and watch at the subscriber’s home.

      But mostly, I was curious to check out the registration process and see if it’s possible to sign up and not be paid a commission. At least in the standard registration form, there is NOT a way not to get paid. The process appears to be automated, and the terms on their end include a promise to pay $9.00 per confirmed sale one month after the end of the month when the sale happens.

      1. Plus just because you sign up to be an affiliate doesn’t mean anything other than you going through the sign up process if you never put it up on your website… Its just research.

  4. This idiots come up with a set of rules designed to kill the fan film industry, sue “Axanar” into bankruptcy and now they want us to sign on to their little venture. As my reply would be obscene and anatomically impossible for them to perform I will forego it here.

    1. There’s a lot of parts in the CBS machine. The folks dealing with producing season one of DISCO aren’t really worrying about fan films. The folks trying to market DISCO are facing a unique challenge, as the business model for All Access is relatively new. They are not Netflix or Hulu–their content is solely from a single television network and made up primarily of reruns. They are trying to attract one of the world’s largest and most loyal franchise fan bases (Trekkies), but they haven’t exactly been tending to the health of that golden goose lately. They hope the bird is still willing to lay those golden eggs, but they don’t know for certain…and so they are reaching out somewhat blindly, desperately hoping to grab a solid handle somewhere. The negative posts on STC’s Facebook announcement outnumbering the positive ones 3-to-1 should worry the marketing folks quite a bit. The goose might still be healthy enough to lay some eggs, but it seems too pissed off at the moment to want to.

      And then there’s licensing and legal–a totally separate division. They sued Axanar and wrote up the guidelines, and while they didn’t necessarily poison the well of goodwill from the fan film community, they did significantly taint it. The water won’t kill them, but it tastes a little funny and might make them sick. (Man, I am Captain Metaphor today!) When Alec Peters and others (including me) warned that the lawsuit had little upside for the studios and a huge risk of downside, this is what we were talking about. A fan base that was hyped up, enthusiastic about the property, and keeping momentum going even when new Star Trek content was mostly lacking from the studios…that fan base would have been in good spirits and ready to get behind a new series like Discovery. Instead, those same fans are now angry, resentful, ornery, fighting among themselves, and in no mood to simply throw $6/month at CBS for new Star Trek. Many feel like something special was taken away from the fans–their fan films being made at ever-increasing levels of professionalism. And it’s understandable that the studios were concerned by this. I don’t blame them for worrying about fan films reaching a point of quality that might cause potential confusion in the marketplace. But I think their solution–a multi-million lawsuit with no prior cease and desist letter or even a phone call…followed by guidelines that were too restrictive–ended up hurting the studios (mainly CBS) in ways they couldn’t foresee at the time but they’ll discover (pun unintended!) soon enough.

      1. Agreed. It will be very interesting to see what happens with subscriptions when Discovery goes live. I wonder if they’ll ever make their subscription numbers public?

      2. Star trek is for all of us and CBS DON’T HAVE NO right to this show, it was for everyone to in joy. But cbs want it just for them selfs only. The money. I will not go to no star trek convention that cbs they run.

        1. Legally, according to a court of law, CBS owns Star Trek. That came out during the Axanar lawsuit. So CBS has ALL the rights to the show. The fans have none. (Sorry to disappoint you, Kenny.) Had you been correct in your assertion, the Axanar lawsuit would have been quickly dismissed rather than dragging on for a year and finally settling.

          And I do have to now issue you a warning, Kenny–as I’ve done to others–that the next time you try to post false information to this website, rather than spending my time correcting the misinformation, I am simply going to trash the comment. CBS owns Star Trek. Outright. Completely. Period.

          1. Jonathan, while you are correct, Kenny does have a point a lot of people really believe in, that at some point, Trek crossed the boundary between a single product and became a cultural part of society. The intricate woven things such as “Klingonese”, conventions, reruns, fab fiction, fan films, all allowed to grow and prosper, until the Axanar Event. I think he is voicing the emotional feeling a lot of fans had that Trek was theirs, beyond the legal argument of ownership. It was a product as much of CBS and Paramount, as the fans support of it through all the dark ages between series and movies. You are correct to point out the “legal” end of it, but I also think there is a “cultural” end of it that is not addressable in law as it stands today. Kenny does need to work on his wordsmithing a little…it is confusing sometimes…

          2. It muddies the water though, Brian. Fans would feel justified in doing certain things if they thought with any sense of certainty that they, in some way, owned Star Trek. If only that were true! But it’s not. And to keep fans but getting into the kind of trouble that Axanar did, I feel it’s important that fans understand that, just because we wish REALLY hard for something to be true doesn’t make it so.

      1. When the lawsuit was filed on December 29, 2015, the Axanar bank account still had about $265,000 in it, according to Alec Peters. That money continued to pay $15,000/month in rent and utilities for another year. So no, Axanar did not run out of money prior to the lawsuit.

        Please don’t post inaccurate information on this blog, Brady. If I see these kinds of false claims again, the comment will simply be trashed rather than me wasting time correcting the misinformation.

    2. “Sue Axanar into bankruptcy”? What? According to Peters, no donor money was ever spent on the lawsuit. Peters spent all of the money that was donated, mostly on rental for a studio that was NEVER used to create Axanar. Don’t blame any impending bankruptcy of Axanar (aka Peters) on the lawsuit. And it was Alec Peters that killed the fan film “industry”.

      1. “And it was Alec Peters that killed the fan film ‘industry’.”

        Hmmmm… Considering that the fan film industry is far from dead (over 75 Trek fan film releases in the last year since the guidelines were released), it’s hard to make a case that Alec Peters killed it. How can someone have killed something that isn’t actually dead?

        1. Thank you! I get so riled up seeing that silly statement, and people seem to want to trollitize it and toss it in like the repeat fire grenade or something. You are exactly right, no one has killed the fan film, and CBS simply made it harder (albeit impossible) to get a really “good one”. Although, point of fact, there are actually some really, really good short sci fi movies on you tube nowadays, well made and with good story lines.

  5. I run an affiliate program on a page I run (the affiliate is Walmart). To get approved, they review your website and give you a code to place in ads. If STC say they are not getting paid, chances are the code is set up by CBS so that they don’t receive any funds. CBS would still be able to track where those new viewers were directed from. The other possibility is that STC asked to have the money they make from sales sent to a charity of their choosing. Either way, its between them and CBS. If other fan-films with websites want to do the same, they can always contact CBS and ask for details on how to become an affiliate.

  6. Jonathan, I hate to be that guy, but you do know that those stats you posted also include “bots” stats, right? If you want accurate stats you need to use Google Analytics.

    1. Google Analytics is installed. I just don’t usually look at it–so I screen capped Jetpack. To be honest, the thing I usually look at is my Google AdSense reports ’cause those mean actual MONEY!!! (Yesterday I made 96 cents!!!) 🙂

  7. I find the 3 t0 1 negative ratio to be highly inaccurate.

    It should be:

    1. positive (100%)
    2. negative (100%)
    3. partially positive
    4. partially negative
    5. unrelated positive
    6. unrelated negative
    7. other (in post debates spawned by other comments)

    With out doing it in this manner your results are misleading at best and out right propaganda at worst in favor of the anti CBS folks.

    1. Man, I haven’t prepared a set of objective measurement standards for evaluating free-response user observations in YEARS!! Back in the old days, I used to get $50-$75/hour for doing that. In the case of Fan Film Factor, I’m lucky to make a buck or two a day in ad revenue, so creating a review criteria matrix for sorting response types into seven categories is totally above my pay grade on this blog site, Admiral.

      Look, the observations were unscientific and done on the fly. The responses were grouped by most likely user actions: POSITIVE = LIKELY TO SUBSCRIBE and NEGATIVE = UNLIKELY TO SUBSCRIBE. CBS doesn’t necessarily care whether someone is militant about not subscribing or simply not interested, so the “partially” doesn’t mean much. At some point, they should consider some focus group testing measuring the reasons for a decision not to subscribe: cost, waiting for DVD/Blu-ray, perceived value of the service, lack of confidence in/enthusiasm for the new series, resentment of commercials being shown in a pay service, etc. But unless they hire me, that’s not really my problem to solve. I was just curious having noticed a trend in responses in within a demographic where I would have expected less negativity.

      1. With All Due Respect,

        You do realize that with 312 total replies you could form a more accurate graph in about two hours. It’s not like you need anything more than a basic education to figure out.

        Yet the point remains you should be giving as accurate information as possible. After All you do claim to be a more accurate source than AxaMonitor right?

        Now it is time to step up to the plate.

        1. “After All you do claim to be a more accurate source than AxaMonitor right?”

          I claimed to be a more accurate source than Axamonitor? I don’t recall ever saying or typing that.

          In the interests of accuracy, Admiral, could you please provide a link to anywhere I said that? You should be able to Google “Jonathan Lane” “accurate” “source” and “Axamonitor” and find something…if anything exists.

          Time to step up to the plate, Admiral. 🙂

  8. I just hope I’ll still be able to watch Continues for free, but if not then this is the kind of Star Trek show that I would willingly spend money on, no question… *hopeful* / P

  9. Is it possible that the negative comments on the STC page were made by Axanar supporters? I think that is likely.

    Since STC is an actual non profit, that is currently not advancing their agenda I think it would be reasonable to believe what they say about any revenue. When have the good people at STC ever lied to us or given inconsistent stories, Unlike, well….. You know.

    Why is this even an issue? This is business. The studio chose organizations with good track records and reputations to do business with. That fact of who was approached, who was approved, and who was turned down speaks volumes!

    Big win for those of integrity!
    I am looking forward to Discovery, and am willing to pay to see it.

    1. “Is it possible that the negative comments on the STC page were made by Axanar supporters? I think that is likely.”

      Hard to quantify that. The Axanar folks tend to congregate on the Axanar fan group and FB page, and I didn’t see too many familiar names commenting on the STC page. I think the two fan groups generally don’t mix but with some exceptions.

      “Since STC is an actual non profit, that is currently not advancing their agenda I think it would be reasonable to believe what they say about any revenue.”

      Non-profits are still allowed to generate revenue.

      “When have the good people at STC ever lied to us or given inconsistent stories, Unlike, well….. You know.”

      Well, there was that time when Vic said repeatedly that everyone working on STC was a volunteer and that no one got paid. We later learned that, over the course of three years, they paid $165,000 in salaries. I’m not sure if that counts as an inconsistency or not.

      “Why is this even an issue? This is business. The studio chose organizations with good track records and reputations to do business with. That fact of who was approached, who was approved, and who was turned down speaks volumes!”

      It was news, so I reported it. It was also interesting to note the 3-to-1 ratio of likely avoiders to likely subscribers. No need to make this into something more than that.

      “Big win for those of integrity!”

      I’m not even sure what that means. Are you talking about the corporate sponsorship of OWC Studios? Because that’s a different blog post.

      “I am looking forward to Discovery, and am willing to pay to see it.”

      Any chance you’ll sign up for it through FFF? 😉

      Actually, I haven’t decided if I’m going to include the banner link or not. I have a feeling it’ll create a perceived conflict of interest if/when I need to convince the Small Access members to give a one-month subscription a try (assuming CBS updates Guideline #1). I don’t want the Small Access’ers to think I just set up the whole protest campaign to make money off of them…’cause that is totally not the case.

  10. I suspect what happened is the CBS Interactive division looked up STAR TREK fan sites and STC came up as one of them. I suspect they otherwise have NO interest in what STC is about other than being a STAR TREK fan site. They just want their ads for All-Access to be seen on STAR TREK fan sites. They want a significant number of those eyeballs who see their ads to sign up for All-Access.
    I have a sneaking hunch DISCO will be the STARGATE UNIVERSE of the TREK franchise.

  11. Will CBS Allow James Cawley to finish the remaining episodes of Star Trek Phase II ?

    I know that he turned his studio into a museum but I can’t help but wonder if eventually ?

    1. CBS doesn’t “allow” anything regarding fan films (and John Van Citters will back me up on that statement). Allowing something involves corporate approval and/or endorsement. Not suing does not equal “allowing.”

      Instead, James would need to go ahead and finish editing the episode(s)–or let someone else do it (and some have offered)–release the episode(s), and then see what happened. Until such time as something is released, no guideline is technically violated or, more precisely, there is nothing to actually sue for. I might write the greatest Star Trek novel ever, but if all it ever does is sit on my hard drive unpublished, there is no infringement and no damages.

      That said, I really would like to see those final episodes of New Voyages someday. SO would a lot of us. Maybe James Cawley might bequeath the footage to some editor in his will. 🙂

  12. Here’s the deal Jonathan,

    It’s entirely appropriate, for CBS to establish an affiliate link program. I know a couple of art sites that do it. Advertisement on the net and email solicitaion it’s how business on the web gets done.

    Personally, I do wish that CBS was concentrating more on providing original content than trying to make a big killing from Star Trek, as that’s the only way they are going to maintain subscriptions.

    It’s also appropriate for a fan site or a news site such as trekzone, to participatate in an affiliate link program. Matthew I apologize if I gave you the impression that it wasn’t. I know that James drug you into the conversation there on the STC facebook page.

    My issue with you and your website, is not that your cashing in with an affiliate link. It’s that you and your compatriots aren’t pursuing a group like the Continues group with the same vigorousness, that you did with Axanar.

    Anyone who says Continues is respectful of IP is being disingenuous. If they were respectful they would have respected CBS wishes the day the guidelines were released.

    The Continues group used the word “Invitation” which to my mind implies affiliation. Which for a fan film group is a violation of guideline #8.

    And fundraising via affiliate link violates the prohibition on fundraising via advertisement. Since funds are only supposed to be raised via crowdfunding (50K limit) and private donation.

    So if that’s the case, they should provide the documentation that proves it. So that other fan films groups can be comfortable in doing the same.

    Don’t get me wrong, as a show I like Continues, and would like to see it well,,,, continue.

    But, CBS handed down a set of guidelines. And expects ALL fan film groups to live within them. By definitiion that includes Star Trek Continues.

    Now If they don’t like the guidelines, Great!! They should be joining in with other groups and fan film fans to change them. And we would all support them.

    But ignoring them, That’s arrogant! it’s a slap in the face to other groups, the fans, and yes even CBS.

    Hardly in the spirit of Star Trek or Star Trek Fan Films.

    1. If STC is making money off of click-through advertising banners on their website, then yeah, that violates Guideline #6:

      “The fan production cannot be used to derive advertising revenue including, but not limited to, through for example, the use of pre or post-roll advertising, click-through advertising banners, that is associated with the fan production.”

      However, that’s not the only guideline STC has violated. But as STC themselves have said, the guidelines aren’t laws. They’re guidelines. If violated, the fan production CAN be sued, not WILL be sued. If CBS and Paramount hold their fire, it doesn’t matter if STC violates one guideline, five guidelines, or all ten (well, actually, more like fifteen).

      My own exploration of the registration process showed only one way to sign up…and that online form that did NOT allow an affiliate to opt-out of the $9/sale commission. It’s possible STC used a different method. Obviously, we have no way to verify that at present. But hey, we’ve got no way to verify how much Axanar spent on toilet paper either. So there ya go.

  13. The very idea that STC is becoming a CBS All Access Affiliate is BAD ONE!!!! Like Alec Peters and ST-Axanar, Vic Mignogna and STC has done more damage to Star Trek fandom than anything else.

    Most illogical.

          1. “There was a time in the ’70s before the film (1979’s “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”), when I felt like we were lauding a ghost.”

            – Walter Koenig

            After what Alec and Vic have pulled, Star Trek has become just what Walter had described some years past.

            It has run its course and gone as far as it can go.

  14. Star Trek Contiunes has been my favored fan series in a the last few years. So far Vic’s team has brought out a succession of episodes at a more than reasonable rate.
    If having some sort of affiliation with CBS gives them a chance to keep bring out more great stories and as they will still be free, whats all the moaning about ?

    Perhaps doen the line they maybe even a bend on the CBS fanfilm guidlines and get things back on track.

    1. STC says that their involvement as an affiliate will not impact their release of their remaining three episodes…and STC is not planning, at the moment, to make any more. The final three will wrap up the five-year mission and lead into The Motion Picture era.

    1. It’s been shown elsewhere that Facebook “like” clicks and other one-click reactions are an inconsistent indicator of future actions by a person/user. Granted, FB posts aren’t always a reliable indicator either, but this was not a controlled focus group, Admiral. This was a casual observation of a trend that could be of potential concern to the folks at CBS should they wish to investigate it further.

      Understand, Admiral, this sort of thing used to be my bread and butter. Working with Nestle and Disney and Tenet Healthcare and a host of others, I saw a lot of focus group testing data before the roll-out of new products, services, and web functionalities/offerings. In one case–and I am not permitted (even 20 years later) to share specifics–poor focus group testing actually resulted in the complete scrapping of a new product launch and sending development all but back to the drawing board.

      Poor focus group results are usually unexpected and unwelcome, especially after months or years of development of something. Sometimes, however, small tweaks can be made to save the launch. That’s always the hope. It might already be too late for Discovery, but maybe not. However, if subscriptions do end up being shockingly disappointing, then someone is likely to track the cause back to a generally negative mood on the part of hardcore fans…a potential problem that was not caught and addressed properly pre-launch. And yes, someone could certainly be fired because of it.

      Or everything could go just great…in which case my subjectively-measured negative-to-positive comment ratio was but a mere aberration and not worthy of follow-up. That’s all on CBS; it’s their show and their marketing plan. I’m just a canary in a very dark and deep coal mine. 🙂

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