Did CBS doom STAR TREK: DISCOVERY by putting it on ALL ACCESS? (editorial, part 1)

(NOTE FROM JONATHAN – I’ve decided to take a two-part break from fan films to answer the question I keep getting asked: “What do you think about the new Star Trek series that’s coming out?”)

Many Trek fans are hotly debating whether or not it was the right move to “modernize” the production design of the new STAR TREK: DISCOVERY series and put a TV-MA rating on it.  I’ve read passionate posts going back and forth arguing about the new uniform styles not matching those worn by Captain Pike in “The Cage” back in 1965; how the “hairless” Klingons don’t look like the ones we’ve seen on TNG, DS9, Voyager, and Enterprise; and why after 50 years we’re only just now finding out that Spock had an adopted human sister!

In my opinion, none of that is the problem.  That’s not where I think CBS has steered the wrong courae, and that’s not what I’ll be discussing in this blog.  I’m actually planning to check out Discovery at some point down the line.  But am I the exception or the rule?

I honestly think I’m going to be the exception, and that CBS made an unwise decision to offer their new series solely through their ALL ACCESS subscription service (at least here in the U.S.).

It’s not that Trek and sci-fi fans aren’t ready for CBS ALL ACCESS—it’s that ALL ACCESS might not quite be ready for the fans!

Let’s discuss…

“Yesterday’s Fan-Base”

Back in May, CBS President and CEO Les Moonves, after acknowledging that the ALL ACCESS subscribers already skewed about 20 years younger than the audience that typically watches the regular CBS network, said: “Star Trek will bring us even younger.”

Yep, old farts like me (I’m fifty) and others who have been with Star Trek for three or four or five decades…well, we aren’t the droids CBS is looking for.  Sure, we’re fiercely loyal to Star Trek, but we come from another generation.  We are “yesterday’s fan-base.”  We’re used to turning on the TV, changing the channel, and watching a program.  Or maybe we set the DVR to record it and we watch it later.  And hey, maybe we even have NETFLIX.

But for the most part, we watch our shows on the TV screen.  Unfortunately for us, however, CBS ALL ACCESS isn’t exactly “TV-friendly.”  In fact, on their sign-up page, the images CBS shows for their subscription service include a computer, a tablet, and a smart phone.  There’s no television anywhere in sight!  Take a look…

And even though not everyone in “yesterday’s fan-base” is a complete Luddite, we’re still not as likely (as yet) to own any of the devices needed to watch ALL ACCESS on our TV screen: Roku, AppleTV, Chromecast, Xbox, Fire Stick, etc.  And since we’re probably less likely to adjust our viewing habits to suddenly watch Star Trek on our computer screen or smart phone, it’s a safe bet that only a fraction of us long-standing, die-hard Trekkers will go through the hassle of subscribing to ALL ACCESS in order to watch the new series.  Yeah, some probably will, but CBS needs 2 million new subscribers to ALL ACCESS by 2020 (less than 28 months away!).  And considering that a fair percentage of fans are downright hostile to the new show and have said they plan to skip it entirely, well…relying on hard-core Trek fans to get to that 2 million subscriber number likely ain’t gonna cut it.

CBS knows this.  That’s why they went younger and hipper, treating Star Trek “canon” as optional and not the top priority.  In short, they don’t care much about the Trekkies who are shaking their fists and yelling that Discovery looks and feels all wrong for Star Trek.  As I said, we’re not the droids they’re looking for.

“The Next Generation”

These days, the broadcast networks and cable/satellite TV providers live in almost constant anxiety over the concept of the “cord-cutters.”  These are (mainly) young people who are choosing in ever greater numbers to cancel their 3,000-channel/$100+ per month television services and just stream their favorite shows from the Internet.

Unlike “yesterday’s fan-base,” the “next generation” doesn’t have a problem watching TV shows and movies on their computer screen or tablet or phone.  Eventually, they won’t bother watching those “outdated” networks at all but only the shows they want to when they want to.  And—POOF!—there go the ratings and the ad dollars.

In response, companies like CBS and the other networks have looked at streaming services like NETFLIX and HULU and AMAZON PRIME and said, “Hey, let’s do that, too?”  And thus was born ALL ACCESS…with others quickly following suit.  Already Disney has announced that they will be pulling all of their content from Netflix in 2019 when their current licensing contract expires and will be launching their own subscription service.

But there’s a big difference between Disney and ALL ACCESS.  Disney will offer 75 years of Mickey Mouse, animated film classics from Snow White to The Lion King, every Pixar movie ever, plus all the Star Wars and Marvel movies/shows including specials and new features.  A subscription to Disney’s service will likely be money well-spent…especially if you have kids.

And it’s not that ALL ACCESS doesn’t offer an extensive menu of content for their subscribers.  They’ve got the entire catalog of all CBS shows still in first-run like The Big Bang Theory, Young Sheldon, CSI, and NCIS.  Plus they’ve got 60 years worth of reruns from shows like I Love Lucy, The Brady Bunch, the Odd Couple, Cheers, Frasier, 7th Heaven, Beverly Hills 90210, The Twilight Zone, the Young and the Restless, and Wings.  Oh, and you get access to all 262 episodes of the weekly news show Face The Nation and 162 episodes of 60 Minutes.  There’s also NFL Football, the Emmys, Grammys, and Tonys.

The big question is: will the typical “next generation” of subscriber who wants to watch Star Trek: Discovery really care about all that?  Is the $5.99/month (or $9.99/month for the commercial free option) “money well spent”?

Come back tomorrow when we look at what this “next generation” subscriber really wants…and does CBS ALL ACCESS have the goods to offer it?  We’ll also take a look at some of the other headwinds facing the new Star Trek series, including having only one realistic chance to attract a mass audience and whether the field on which Discovery is competing is simply too crowded already…

50 thoughts on “Did CBS doom STAR TREK: DISCOVERY by putting it on ALL ACCESS? (editorial, part 1)”

  1. Jonathan, all the networks and streaming services are trying to capture the magic demographic 18 to maybe 49 but more likely 34, who are the cord cutters and also more picky about what they watch, and when they want to watch it.

    1. That is their bottom line. Who they expect to make their money off of. Unfortunately, that’s not us anymore.

      1. The question is: will they make their money? CBS needs $60 million to pay for the half of Discovery that isn’t covered by the $60 million they got from Netflix for licensing the entire Star Trek catalog (plus Discovery internationally). They say they want 2 million new subscribers. First, they have to attract 2 million subscribers (which is something I think might be a little optimistic). Beyond that, they then have to KEEP 2 million subscribers. Each one of those 2 million needs to keep the service for at least 4 months at the $6/month rate (since ad revenue is added at that level) or 3 months at the $10 rate. I’m not so sure they can get there. Find out why in Part 2.

  2. I disagree on your points, but then again we usually do. I think a more important question at this point is what many Trek fans considered the successor to Star Trek, The Orville. So far the reviews go it have, to put it mildly,, say it sucks. I really would like to hear your ideas on this more than your business Analysis of All Access. What I am reading is ‘you can’t trust critics’ and to make up your own mind (which I plan to do). However when it comes to Discovery it is ok to hate it before seeing a couple pictures and a 2 minute trailer. Somehow this sounds a bit wrong to me. I’d appreciate your thoughts on this again much more than a business Analysis of AA. I think many others agree with this too
    (PS. I’m 60 and have Appletv, Roku, a tablet, a desk computer and a laptop…not all of us are behind technology wise…and I am subscribed to AA)

    1. You are an exception that CBS is pretty much discounting in order to target younger subscribers, Edward. But tune in tomorrow for Part 2 to get a better idea of why Star Trek: Discovery is facing some very heavy headwinds that other shows like The Orville aren’t. I’m not saying Discovery will be bad–it probably won’t be. I’m simply saying that, even if it’s very good, the decision to put the series on All Access may have doomed it no matter what.

  3. A few things I’d like to point out.

    First, the new media thing. I find it interesting how CBS is willing to go hip and modern (streaming, serialized storytelling), and then still use good old tactics from TV (episodic style delivery of episodes, holiday breaks, advertisements). There are so many ways CBS could have done this more intelligently are respectfully to all fans. Why they didn’t, still baffles me. With All Access, they have given the fans an ultimatum, made an offer they can’t refuse, almost literally in the sense of the famous film. They should have made an amazing offer that fans wouldn’t want to refuse instead. That would have attracted a lot more subscribers and silence a lot of the critics. They’re a strong corporation and could afford that kind of very attractive promo if they really meant business with their All Access plans. Instead, the only message they’ve sent is that they’re not much more than a bunch of pathetic bean counters willing to suck all they can from fans right from the get-go. As for the Disney streaming service you mention, I wouldn’t be surprised if they’d split most of their franchises in different streaming services. This is reality after all, not the Star Trek we, fans, dream of…

    Second, the serialized thing. In forums, we see a lot about the downside of the episodic formula with, first and foremost, its monster of the week trope. Pretty much the only thing we see about the downside of serialized series, is their diminished rerun value, and how much people who have missed the beginning of a series might be reluctant to join in mid-season. And obviously, those problems happen to be TV broadcasting related, that magically go away with the greatness of streaming services… But there are more serious problems that are seldom talked about regarding serialized series, problems not resolved by the streaming model. I’ve seen quite a few serialized shows so far, including (significantly overrated) darlings like Game of Thrones and Westworld. It’s basically the same thing: grim, dark, explicit violence and gratuitous nudity, of course, but also only one interesting story stretched to the limit for the whole season. The price of not getting a few really bad episodes, is you don’t get any truly excellent ones that stand on their own either. And since those shows have to keep on going for many seasons as they get renewed, we end up with a bunch of added mysteries that don’t always add up, often more ridiculous than the preceding ones, and most with rarely any satisfying resolutions. BSG and our dear friend JJ’s Lost series were also good examples of that latter point. So yeah, episodic has its share of problems, but I don’t think serialized is really much better in the end as well.

    Third, the age thing. Since the advertisers are only interested in the 18-45 age group (especially the 18-30), it’s not really surprising that CBS doesn’t care much about us aging fans. That being said, that’s why I think they should at least let the older fans crowdfund their own projects with their so-called outdated Trek preferences. And CBS could even turn a profit from it, no matter how small. But the sad thing is they just don’t care. They just want us to swallow whatever they give us now or wither away. They’re corporatists trying to make big money, and nothing else. And the only thing they’re interested in is trying to hit a home run out of the ball park with products aimed at the youngest lowest common denominator. Making a decent profit is not worth the trouble. It’s only a small consolation to them if it happens after they’ve missed the big home run. It’s not something they’re interested in aiming for from the beginning and investing resources in. So to hell with us, essentially.

    In conclusion, I think CBS’ biggest failure (as with the people presently at Paramount), is that they don’t understand Star Trek. Star Trek was never cool in the sense of what the cool kids perceive as cool. Star Trek has always attracted the thoughtful and sensitive minority of society. Star Trek fans have always been this small bunch of dreamers who were fed up with the ugliness of society, not the dumb majority (and a few obnoxious DS9 fans) who can’t get enough of it. Star Trek could never be a sustainable blockbuster thing and remain Star Trek. And that’s perfectly fine. I wish Paramount and CBS could just accept it and make meaningful Trek again. They would not turn as big a profit, but that benefit would not be lost. The benefit would go to today’s young dreamers.

    1. All excellent points, Rollie. The only thing I don’t agree with is completely trashing serialized television. When done correctly (which happens more and more often these days), it can be a very unique and rewarding experience. Indeed, the new concept of “binge-watching” lends itself to serialized storytelling. While some weekly shows might struggle to fill 22 episodes, season after season, with compelling content (like this past season of “The Flash”), remember that these producers have been given a difficult challenge. You try keeping a series fresh and compelling when there’s 16 filmed hours per season for four or five or seven years. Even TNG’s last season was, quite often, a bridge too far with more than its fill of boring episodes. Other series like “Prison Break” and “Glee” were amazing in season one and just couldn’t be as good in later seasons. Some bucked that trend, like “Lost,” but eventually even “Lost” lost it. They just stayed at the party too long and ultimately couldn’t deliver a decent finale.

      I could go on and on, but my point is that serialized storytelling isn’t, in and of itself, a problem. In many ways, this is the golden age of television…maybe even the platinum age. My issue with Discovery isn’t the decision to make the show serialized.

    2. The dilemma we have here as Star Trek fans us this: the success of this ‘fan graft’ for a lack of a better word will only enbolden the networks to make more and more content pay as you go. Can you imagine the outcry if AMC decided all new seasons of The Walking Dead now came with a monthly premium? Where does it end? Is the nightly news going to require a credit card soon? And it IS coming.
      AMC and FX both offer a commercial free premium offeri g. With all of the shows out there now that I personally would like to watch that are on these various pay sites; from Netflix to You Tube Red to Hulu Plus…Amazon…et al…. I am already priced out of what I am able to afford. My line in the sand is Discovery. To support this is to support quite literally being nickled and dimed to death for my TV viewership.

      1. The nickel-and-dime aspect of the various subscription services is what, I believe, will ultimately lead to their collapse. Sure, CBS says that $6 a month is merely a trifle. But when a dozen different services are each taking their $6 or $9 or $14 or whatever, you may as well just stick with your $100/month for 3,000 channels of cable TV!

        1. I agree completely Jonathan. I think that CBS sees the revenue stream that services like Netflix and Hulu have gotten and want in on that pie. I have no problem with that, but I think that CBS is missing the big picture. Most households will not have the excess funds to subscribe to multiple streaming services, so they are going to go with the ones that offer them the most choices, and I do not see All Access making people change what streaming service they use. On a completely unrelated note even if I were to pay for All Access I wouldn’t just because they still show commercials before and during your stream. That right there is a deal breaker for me. If I pay for a premium server and to me streaming is a premium server I do not want nor need commercials.

  4. So… people in their 70’s were in their 40’s in the 1980’s programming VCR’s, which is a heck of a lot more complex than using a fire stick….

    Your assumption that older folks aren’t cord cutters is extremely ageist….

    1. As I said in the article, not all of us old farts are Luddites, OJ. But looked at as a larger demographic, we’re less likely to have all the latest gadgets and tech, and our viewing habits are centered more on the TV than on the tablet or iPhone. The young’uns are the opposite, which is why Les Moonves said what he said. All I did was quote him.

  5. You simply have no idea, Jonathan. Streaming is main stream. I sell AppleTV, Fire Sticks, and Chromecast to all ages. Every TV is a smart TV nowadays, and they are easier to use than ever before. As usual, your bias against CBS shows quickly. Alec would be proud.

    1. You can only judge the user base by those who come into your store, Aaron, not by those who don’t. How many more people are staying home and NOT upgrading their older Smart TVs and DVD players?

      Anyway, don’t take my word for it. Les Moonves said that CBS is targeting the young demographic with Discovery. I’m just trying to explain why.

      And please leave Alec Peters out of your comments on this topic. He’s not a part of this discussion. He’s obviously proud of a lot of things, including talking me into doing a blog on Star Trek fan films 18 months ago! 🙂

      1. http://variety.com/2017/digital/news/roku-apple-tv-chromecast-amazon-fire-tv-market-share-2017-1202506850/

        168.1 million users in the US…yeah, it’s all young people.

        Two minutes worth of research and your premise is flawed. The US market is already using connected TV devices at a high rate. CBS offers high quality, first run programming on it’s platform which will draw many fans, and Star Trek is a great draw for all demographics. For $6 per month (less than two Starbucks coffees), people will try it. They may stay for other shows as well, but the value is in the total amount of content anyway, as you pointed out.

        All Access is poised to thrive. A new Star Trek series is just a bonus.

        1. From the article:

          “It’s important to note that eMarketer is estimating the total number of users per platform, not unit sales. This month Roku said it has more than 15 million active monthly user accounts; the eMarketer estimates are higher because each account may have multiple individual users.”

          And once again, Less Moonves said CBS was targeting a younger viewer. I simply provided the reason why.

          As for the rest…we shall see. 🙂

  6. I disagree on the CBSAA isn’t TV friendly. I have 3 TVs at home… all 3 can watch CBSAA. It isn’t that hard. I doubt I’d watch on my computer but sept 24th I’ll still sit down and watch it on my big screen TV. Only question is which of the multiple ways to watch CBSAA on my TV that I have will I use?

    1. As I said in the article, it’s not that one cannot get All Access on a TV screen. It’s simply that it requires technology purchased more recently than the summer of 2015. For younger folks, having this technology is almost a given. For older folks, it’s more the exception than the rule. That’s why Les Moonves said CBS is targeting a much younger audience with Discovery.

  7. Smart Tv’s have existed for at least 5 years. Your new technology is easier to program than a VCR ever was.

    1. Smart TVs and Blu-ray players manufactured prior to the summer of 2015 do not have the capability to install the software to offer All Access, Aaron. Trust me, if they did, I wouldn’t have to go out and buy an AppleTV later on this month! 🙂

  8. I also have a smart blue ray player and Roku box and I’m 68. However, I pick and choose what I want to watch. The older smart tv’s and blue ray players don’t have the necessary firmware to receive All Access. The older firmware may not have the capacity to add more apps to what they may already have. I have not decided if I’ll watch Discovery. I’ll certainly see it on broadcast tv for the first episode, after that, I don’t know yet.

  9. But Jonathan, why is it suddenly considered close minded to read The critics and make up your mind on Orville but considered fine by many to already hate on Discovery long before there is actually any information to base that opinion on? (Sorry, run on sentence!).

    I’m not talking about you here, but many other people are doing it. I’m not referring to the quality of either show or the fact that Discovery is going to be on AA…I’m talking about many people, actually on both sides, already having made up their minds.

    I do have to say that a good percentage of people already saying they hate Discovery are fans of Axanar and honestly I have to wonder why this is so.

    1. I haven’t noticed the Axanar connection, to be perfectly honest, Edward. Alec Peters himself is not only a big supporter of Discovery, he’s actually hosting a viewing party at OWC Studios to watch the premiere episode. It would seem to me the Axanar fans would follow their “leader” and support the new series, too. I certainly do.

  10. “CBS All Access launched in the U.S. in October 2014 and has grown its subscribers rapidly since that time. On March 15, 2016, the Company stated that by 2020 it would have eight million subscribers combined for CBS All Access and SHOWTIME’s direct-to-consumer products. Yesterday, CBS announced that it is ahead of that pace and will exceed more than four million subscribers combined by the end of 2017.”


    Yes, the numbers here are for both CBSAA and their Showtime online service, but they’re also indicating that they are outdoing the projected numbers. And I hate to break it to you but for CBS, it will matter less the number of eyes on the program but more their agreement with Netflix and the actual number of subscribers.

    Plus, CBS has already stated their deal to go international has already paid for the series, any ad dollars or subscriptions purchased are already profit.

    1. Les Moonves said that ALL ACCESS is currently at 2 million subscribers, and they want 4 million (for just ALL ACCESS) by 2020. It could happen, but I think it’s a tall order. They need $60 million to break even because Les Moonves made the announcement in March of 2016:

      “The international marketplace, without seeing a word on paper or anything at all, the numbers internationally are astronomical. So that covers about sixty percent of the cost of production right there, before we even begin.”

      Of course, that was before the series went over budget. The current budget for season one is $120 million, so I figure the original budget was probably closer to $100 million (it was never announced with a specific number, but that seems a reasonable assumption). This means that Netflix paid $60 million for the license to the Star Trek catalog. A year and a half ago, that was 60%, but now with the budget at $120 million, it’s just about half.

      If every one of those 2 million subscribes for a full year at $10/month, CBS is home free with $240 million in revenue. But if they all wait for the end of the first season, subscribe for just one month at $6, binge-watch, and then cancel, CBS is looking at revenue of only $12 million. Obviously, both are extremes and the most likely scenario is some hybrid of the two scenarios…assuming ALL picks up all 2 million subscribers they’ve planned for. And of course, the $6/month subscribers come with advertising revenue since they get commercials. However, that ad revenue won’t be as significant with the number of eyeballs will be only on the very lower millions at best and limited to 12 minutes of ads per hour instead of the usual 16 minutes for broadcast TV.

      1. So, first, let’s talk subscriber base:

        – The service started in October 2014 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CBS_All_Access)
        – In March 2015, the service had 100,000 subscribers. That’s just five months after going online. (http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/cbs-all-access-streaming-service-780636)
        – In December 2016, subscriber base was 1.2 million. (https://www.wsj.com/articles/cbs-goes-all-in-on-all-access-1481718608)
        – By February 2017, they were closing in on 1.5 million subscribers, just as their first original series, The Good Fight was premiering. (http://variety.com/2017/digital/news/showtime-cbs-all-access-streaming-1-5-million-subscribers-1201986844/)
        – As you suggest, and as data seems to clarify, they’re probably hovering right around 2 million subscribers right now (http://variety.com/2017/tv/news/cps-all-access-showtime-4-million-subscribers-1202518063/)
        – Their goal by 2020 is 8 million subscribers (which is combined with Showtime). Thinking just domestically, that’s a tall order for a service that will be around for just five years. (http://www.adweek.com/tv-video/cbs-all-access-bulks-originals-it-prepares-take-hulu-and-netflix-173246/)
        – BUT, with moves into Canada and Australia, that does not seem to be that tall of an order to reach 4 million in a little over two years with major expansions announced (https://techcrunch.com/2017/08/07/cbs-to-expand-cbs-all-access-internationally-plans-a-live-streaming-service-for-sports/)

        I don’t see CBS having a problem reaching those figures. It seems, in fact, to be rather low.

        As for your discussion of budget, you are correct. I was not aware of those new statements, but let’s look at this realistically. At the moment, CBS is the number one network in the world. They are invested in jumping into the 21st century. They are known for shows with older audiences and need to branch out in order to survive. The truth is, we are going to see more streaming services. I applaud CBS for getting ahead of the game. They’re also going to give a little leeway as these series get off the ground, because they have the money, and because they can. Its in their best interest to.

        Could a less than satisfactory performance see Discovery season 2 with less of a budget? Absolutely!

        But I don’t see that happening. Let’s suggest that another 500,000 subscribers will join CBS All Access prior to the start of the series. I’ve not joined yet but its my intent to do so as we go into the launch weekend. But I think 500k is a reasonable number. That would put the total subscribership at 2.5 million. On its face, that’s $15 million in subscriber fees for the month of September alone. But, let’s be honest. Not all 2.5 million are going to watch, so let’s take the actual viewership down to 1.5 million. That might be a little high, but I think its a nice round number.

        Then let’s add ad revenue to the equation. According to AdAge, back in 2015, Hulu was charging $35 for 1,000 ad impressions (http://adage.com/article/news/costs-ad-prices-tv-mobile-billboards/297928/). I think that’s reasonable for 2 years later on a smaller running service than Hulu. Realistically, though I have to take our base down a little bit more because people don’t like commercials, so I’ll take it down to 1.25 million viewers. But, those extra 250,000 viewers have to pay extra, so I’ll add $1 million to the profit line. (I could add more, but let’s be honest. People are whining about having to pay in the first place so I think some will live with 12 minutes of commercials.) So, estimating $35 for 1,000 impressions with an estimated 1.25 million viewers, ad revenue would come in about a $1mil an episode. Four episodes in a month, you now have $4 million.

        BUT WAIT, its not just Discovery that has ads on CBS All Access. Its everything. And they have a lot of content. For argument’s sake, let’s say they make about $5 million for advertising revenue a month. That actually may be a little conservative. And as really, bringing their catalog titles back into the equation doesn’t have that much overhead, because, well, they own them, so a small bit of royalty and you’re golden. But I don’t think its going to make that big of an impact in the $5 million, so I’m going to leave that number there. This takes total ad revenue per month to $6 million.

        So, if the series costs about $120 million to produce, AND Netflix and the international markets are paying about 50% of the show (I imagine in reality they take a bit of the overrun, but I’ll allow it), they only have to account for $60 million. Taking the subscription fees into account $16 million per month with a series that will run for about four months (I know there’s a break and I plan to cancel during that time. I’m sure others will too, so I’m not counting it.). That is $64 million. I’m already over my goal. But, let’s keep going. You add in the ad revenue over the same time, which should come in about $6 million a month, which totals at $24 million. So, in this model, CBS All Access, which has made a $120 million dollar series, has made back its investment plus a nice $28 million profit.

        No, this is not absolutely accurate, and there are certainly other things to take into consideration (such as as you suggest, binge watching the episodes for $6, not to mention, more people buying the ad free option, piracy and other such things), but it takes realistic figures into account. But, $28 million is a nice cushion that they have to work with if my numbers are even anywhere to be correct. (I hope they are.)

        But, there are also other things to take into consideration: merchandising rights, partnerships, and other such things. The truth of the matter is, you and I can pretend to play armchair Hollywood accountant, but there is so much stuff that neither one of us are thinking of that goes into this, its almost careless for us to guess. But, it is kind of fun. 🙂

        1. Hail, fellow business analyst…Huzzah!!!

          Ryan, if you don’t do this for a living already, you should. I used to create PowerPoint presentations like that all the time. (Not sure if anyone ever read ’em, though!) 🙂

          You make some excellent points, and present some very well-thought-out figures. I’ve got just one fly to drop into your ointment…

          And keep in mind, I don’t know if this is a real fly or not. But here’s a question to ponder: Does CBS ALL ACCESS have 2 million subscribers RIGHT NOW (like there are 2 million people currently signed up and paying the monthly fee), or have they had a total of 2 million subscribers UP UNTIL NOW (including people who have canceled)? CBS is being purposefully vague in presenting the details of those figures, including leaving out the most important datum from their annual shareholder reports: attrition rate for ALL ACCESS. What percentage of new subscribers are canceling, and what is the mean and median number of months they remain with the service before walking away?

          It’s an important question to know the answer to, and unfortunately, neither you nor I has that answer. But it could change all of our equations so significantly. If 2 million people have subscribed to ALL ACCESS over the past couple of years but half have cancelled in that time, then there’s only a million subscribers right now. Also, how many are subscribed at the $6 rate and how many at the $10 rate? I’m also dubious about that $35/M impressions number. It might have been true for Hulu, but that seems a little high for ALL ACCESS and might be affected by the $6/$10 split.

          There is just so much we both don’t know! But I think CBS wants it that way for now. 🙂

          My last point has to do with saturation of the customer base and what I used to call “the bungee effect.” Some products begin slow out of the starting gate and then catch fire and explode in popularity. Others peak early and then, once all the early adopters are on board, it’s more challenging to find new customers. In those cases, expansion and growth becomes like trying to pull a bungee cord farther and farther from the wall. ALL ACCESS could be either one–poised for explosive growth or already saturated and attached to the bungee. Perhaps those 2 million who are there already were the easiest ones to convince. If so, then it’s going to take a lot more to convince the next 2 million. Bungee or no bungee? And is Discovery enough to convince? We just don’t know yet.

          But hey, thanks for giving me an opportunity to debate hard data and complex concepts, Ryan. I miss this sort of thing a lot!

          1. It is an absolutely fair point to bring up, Jonathan. But, I don’t know that it matters. I don’t believe any streaming service releases their numbers for viewership. I think the proof will be in the final product. If its worth watching, great! We have a new Star Trek series that could run for years. If not? Eh. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. For us, anyway. (Except maybe a couple of bucks.)

            But yeah, it was fun discussing this with you. I wish I worked in business analysis. But naah, I’m just an armchair Hollywood accountant.

  11. Oh dear me….

    I DO feel the need to remind most everyone reading this that almost every smart TV comes installed with the Roku app which will allow you to use CBS All Access, once you set up a free Roku account.

    Matter of Note and File: The Roku brings all of the online streaming providers under one roof, so you don’t ave to exit one program and enter another.

    Also if a persons TV has built in Wi-Fi or a port where you can plug in a router, you can use your TV as a second monitor (like when playing video games) and use CBS AA that way as well.

    The only way CBS All Access will not work on your TV is if you choose not to try and find ways to make it work.

    1. My apologies, Charles. In an attempt to edit down the length of the editorial (it started as nearly a 4-parter!), I cut out a bit dealing with the concept of installed user base. Yes, most new Smart TVs are now capable of connecting directly to All Access. However, any Smart TV or DVD player manufactured before the summer of 2015 does not have the ability to install All Access into the firmware.

      And so, if one does now own a Smart TV or DVD player less than two years old (and many–not all–of the older generation do not), then they need to either purchase a box that does or else upgrade their smart TV or DVD player. Either way, it involves a monetary expense beyond the basic $6/month for the All Access subscription…at least if you want to watch Discovery on your TV screen.

      1. You can use a router with an older style connection or adapter or more precisely follow this article from 2011:



        Smart TV’s have been around since 2004 and the process of hooking one up OR even just using a non smart TV a monitor is rather easy.

        A Roku stick cost about 35 bucks and then you can have Netflx, All Access, Hulu and other services on your TV, not to mention all of the free content.

        I’m 47 and it’s all very simple to hook up, if not you get the neighbors kid in high school to do it.

        We need to teach people to embrace technology, not be afraid of it.

  12. I’m a bit older than you and have been a Trekkie since we were first called Trekkies. The clips I’ve seen of STD look promising but I have to admit that I’ve lost interest in Trek. It seems like the death of Roddenberry started the downward spiral of the franchise, and it continues with Discovery. If TOS was 100% Trek, then TNG was like 95% Trek. DS9 was maybe 75%, Voyager was around 55%, the TNG films were around 75%, Enterprise dipped below the halfway point at around 40%, then Abrams I bumped it back up to maybe 70% but Abrams II sunk down to 30% and Abrams III crept back up to 40%. Trek just isn’t Trek anymore and hasn’t been for a generation. I can understand why so many amateurs like Peters want to pick it up but they’re ultimate just that–amateurs– and cheap imitation Trek just doesn’t qualify for me no matter how exacting.

    Now comes Discovery. It looks promising but it just looks too much like Abrams Trek to me, and that ain’t good. I also read that they’re discarding Roddenberry’s golden rule about interpersonal conflict, so lower the percentage yet again. I’ll watch the opener on network but would be very shocked if it grabbed me enough to follow it behind a paywall.

    BTW– I saw the pic of you and your fam at Legoworld. Cute wife and kid. Well done.

    1. Thanks for the compliment. I can’t take credit for the cuteness of either Wendy or Jayden. She was cute long before I met her, and Jayden was adopted (at birth). 🙂

      As for Roddenberry’s “rule” of no interpersonal conflict…poppycock, I say! TOS was full of it! Look at Spock and McCoy…always bickering. And I remember Kirk balling out Scotty in “Who Mourns for Adonais?” The sexual tension between Spock and Chapel was explored a few times, and just look at the conflicts with other Starfleet officers like Ron Tracey, Matt Decker, Bob Wesley, and Ben Finney. Spock had conflict with both of his parents. Lt. Stiles was openly hostile to Spock. Lt. Bailey freaked out on the bridge at everybody. No, TOS was not “one, big happy fleet” all the time, James.

        1. Yeah, I still never liked that “rule.” After Gene’s passing, Rick Berman threw it out entirely for Deep Space Nine, which–at least in my opinion–was a much better show with stronger characters. And the fact that Quark and Odo, plus Bashir and O’Brien, each had friction in their relationships only made the series better…especially since it allowed those relationships to evolve and develop. Ultimately, Miles and Julian’s friendship was all the more solid–and satisfying to the viewer–because it had been forged in an initial bickering and harsh dislike of O’Brien for Bashir. Likewise, look at how characters such as Garak and Dukat developed. Look at Quark and Nog. Worf and Ezri. The list goes on.

          I understand what Gene had wanted to do. He was forcing the writers of TNG to create STORIES and not just dramas. “The Real Housewives of Starfleet” or “Beverly Hills 1701D” was not an option. And that was important. It allowed for some truly standout TNG episodes. But I never felt the depth of character for most members of the Enterprise-D crew (except for Picard and Worf) that I did for just about every character in DS9.

          But hey, that’s just me. 🙂

          1. Everything you say about DS9 is true and I agree with it, but my point is that it differs from the Trek that Roddenberry conceived. To heavily paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, Roddenberry envisioned Star Trek as an aspirational series that presented humanity in a positive and optimistic light, and any Trek that differs from his vision is not Star Trek to the extent of the difference. It may be better– lots better, sometimes– but it just ain’t Trek. To really be considered Trek, it needs to be more than uniforms and ships. Trek needs to present humanity as having successfully risen above the petty differences common to society today as they were in the 1960s.

          2. I personally believe DS9 managed to accomplish that, James. Humanity not only rise about its basest instincts, but the two-parter “Homefront” and “Paradise Lost” showed that maturity tested. And although Earth almost became a post-911 paranoid martial law state, the “good guys ultimately won.” I like to think Gene would have enjoyed that episode.

  13. For me the real solution to the continuity problems was to place the new show in the early 25th century. I’ve never really liked prequels, because you already know the general outcome of the story.

  14. I’m a teacher, and as far as going after a younger audience is concerned, I think CBS is in trouble. None of my middle school students has any interest in Star Trek, and this same lack of interest was true even a decade ago when I used to teach high school.

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