Great news for STAR TREK: DISCOVERY…or is it? (news and editorial, part 1)

The news seems to be REALLY great for the premiere of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY.  According to a press release quickly and enthusiastically circulated by an exuberant CBS, the premiere of the newest Star Trek TV series has resulted in record-breaking sign-ups for the ALL ACCESS streaming service:

Tonight’s premiere of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY on CBS All Access, the CBS Television Network’s digital subscription video on demand and live streaming service, broke a new record for subscriber sign-ups in a single day, eclipsing the previous record held by the 2017 GRAMMY Awards®.

In addition to its single day subscriber sign-up record, CBS All Access experienced its best week and month ever for sign-ups due to the launch of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY, the fall kick-off of the NFL ON CBS on the service’s live local feeds and the season finale of BIG BROTHER and the BIG BROTHER LIVE FEEDS.

Also, the free premiere on the regular CBS network was watched by 9.6 million people.

But before people start gulping down too much champagne (although there is certainly reason for celebration), I’d like to mention a few things that CBS and fans should be noting.

Now, I realize this blog is going to sound like a wet blanket, but please make no mistake: I am ABSOLUTELY, SINCERELY HAPPY that so many people liked the new show!  (I personally wasn’t thrilled with it, although I do plan to watch more episodes eventually.)

But I’m also a business strategist trained to look at multiple aspects of a situation.  As I did in my previous blog about Star Trek: Discovery, I want to take a look at the whole picture…which is, of course, impacted significantly by CBS’s decision to offer their new Star Trek series exclusively as a paid streaming video-on-demand service.

So yes, the news is definitely good for CBS.  But it might be a little too soon to consider the game won…

Continue reading “Great news for STAR TREK: DISCOVERY…or is it? (news and editorial, part 1)”

THE ORVILLE – not bad for a STAR TREK FAN FILM! (editorial/review)

At first, I was thinking, “Yeesh!  This is as bad as the critics were saying!”  I thought of all the things I could say to try to sugarcoat my disappointment in this new series that I’d been looking forward to all summer.  “Hey, the pilot episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation wasn’t much to write home about either.”  (And it wasn’t!)  “Come to think of it, the pilots for DS9 and especially Voyager kinda sucked, too.”

But hey, if you’re gonna try to prop up the pilot of a new series by saying that other pilots sucked, too, then you’re pretty much admitting that the pilot for The Orville sucked, right?  And even if TNG, DS9, and Voyager eventually did get better, there was no guarantee that The Orville would follow suit.

But then a strange thing happened: it did get better!

In fact, by the time the episode came back from the midway 30-minute commercial break, the pilot was actually quite a lot of fun to watch.  It was exciting, engaging, well-paced, and intelligent.  Even the stupid jokes weren’t falling quite as flat as they had in the first two acts.

Continue reading “THE ORVILLE – not bad for a STAR TREK FAN FILM! (editorial/review)”

Did CBS doom STAR TREK: DISCOVERY by putting it on ALL ACCESS? (editorial, part 2)

In yesterday’s blog, while many Star Trek fans are debating uniforms, starships, bridge lighting, hairless Klingons, and adopted human sisters, I decided to look at a much more fundamental question regarding the new Star Trek: Discovery television series.  Was it a good or bad business decision by CBS to make the new show available (at least in the U.S) exclusively via subscription to their ALL ACCESS streaming service?

We already looked at CBS’s decision to target the series to a younger audience, based on a statement made be CBS President and CEO Les Moonves back in May.  This means that the older, more loyal Star Trek fans, “yesterday’s fan-base” as I call them, aren’t the primary target…which is kinda why Discovery isn’t sweating the details in hewing to established Star Trek canon.

Instead, CBS is focusing their attention and hopes on younger viewers who are more likely to subscribe to a brand new streaming video on demand (SVOD) service than the older fans.

Ah, but therein lies the rub!

These younger viewers don’t have an existing, decades-long relationship with Star Trek.  They weren’t watching TOS when it first aired in the 1960s or grew up with it in the 1970s.  They didn’t even watch TNG in the 1980s and 1990s as kids.  All those folks are already pushing 40 (or 50 or 60 or 70!)  CBS is targeting viewers in their 30s or even 20s.  By the time these younger viewers were old enough to watch Star Trek, the ratings for the show had already plummeted and few people were watching at all.

In other words, the vast majority of these young viewers aren’t really Star Trek “fans.”  To them, Discovery is more like a new science fiction show based on an old series that their parents or grandparents used to watch…except this version has cool sets, dazzling VFX, action, adventure, and a TV-MA rating.  And there’s nothing inherently wrong with that.  I don’t fault CBS for choosing to make the new series young and hip.

But they made another choice to put the new series exclusively on the ALL ACCESS subscription service here in the U.S.  And today, I want to look at some of the consequences of that decision—not from the perspective of an angry fan (which I’m not; I actually want the new series to succeed), but as a business analyst.

Continue reading “Did CBS doom STAR TREK: DISCOVERY by putting it on ALL ACCESS? (editorial, part 2)”

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…

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

SMALL ACCESS is now FAN FILM FORUM!

Well, that didn’t take long!  Yesterday, I began asking members of SMALL ACCESS, who had voted to rename and re-brand our Facebook Group, whether our new name should focus on Fan Films or Star Trek: Discovery.  After all, they had both brought people to our group, but only one name could be on the sign over the front door.  (And no, I didn’t feel that “Fan Film Discovery” was a workable name…sorry, Reece.)

I’d expected to leave the poll up for a few days, but after less than 24 hours, the vote was 102-to-3 in favor of focusing on Fan Films.  I doubt another day or four would have made much of a difference.  Many comments mentioned that there was already a Discovery group, and the show would either succeed or fail without another Facebook group either supporting or resisting it.  Fan Films, however, deserved a wider following and more support.  So “Fan Film…Something” it would be!

A number of names were suggested in the comments.  Some, like “All Things Trek,” were already taken.  Others had potential, like “Fan Film Focus,” “SciFi Fan Film,” “Fan Film Trek,” “Fan Film Federation,” and “Fan Film Fans.”  A few gave me a chuckle: “Fundamentally Fantastic Fan Film Factor Forum for Freedom,” “Fan Film Funyuns,” and “Frankly Fans are Furious.”

But in the end, it was moderator Dave Heagney, Jr.’s suggestion of FAN FILM FORUM that just kinda grabbed me and wouldn’t let go.  It was clean, simple, and you know how much I love things that abbreviate down to “FFF.”

In fact, FAN FILM FORUM allowed me to do a visual tie-in to Fan Film Factor since I had many of the logo elements already set up in Photoshop…so creating a Facebook cover image for the group was relatively simple:

The visual tie-in between the Facebook group and this blog site makes sense.  Aside from the fact that the same guy (yours truly) runs them both, there’s also the fact the Fan Film Factor is currently the #1 blog site focusing on Star Trek fan films.  (This site gets more web traffic than the other two.)  So why not have a tie-in, right?

So let’s welcome FAN FILM FORUM to the world of Facebook groups.  If you never joined Small Access but you love Fan Films, then I invite you to click here and become of a part of the fun at Fan Film Forum.

SMALL ACCESS to RE-BRAND…but to what?

Last week, I decided to ask the 1,345 members of the SMALL ACCESS Facebook Group whether they thought it was time to throw in the towel, hang in there longer, or transform ourselves with a new identity and focus.

The reason for this survey was because SMALL ACCESS hadn’t grown large enough to significantly impact the potential revenue of CBS All Access, and as such, would most likely not be able to leverage that financial impact into a justification for CBS to consider revising the fan film guidelines.

After a week of voting, the results were pretty clear that the members want to keep the group going but with a new name, focus, and goal.  Here were the results:

  • 114 votes -Re-brand with a new name and new focus/purpose.
  • 22 votes – Keep our current name and goal.
  • 13 votes – Close down the group entirely.

We had a pretty good voter turn-out of 149 members, or about 12%.  (We’re hardly a national election, but in direct-response advertising, a response rate of 2% is considered quite good, and 10% amazing.)  And over 92% of our responding members want the group to continue…so that’s what we’re gonna do.

With more than three-quarters of our responding membership wanting a new name and identity…what now?  The answer is: one more poll!  But this one is pretty straightforward.

SMALL ACCESS has two things that brought people to the group in the first place: Star Trek fan films and Star Trek: Discovery.  Some members wanted to pressure CBS to change the guidelines because they love Star Trek fan films, while other members simply wanted a place to either bitch about or defend Discovery.

So which are we more focused on…fan films or Discovery??  Obviously, we’re Star Trek, and choosing one option doesn’t necessarily exclude the other.  Members can post and discuss whatever they’d like!

But we can only have one name up on the sign over the shop: either Fan Film…something (no, not Factor; that’s taken) or Discovery…something.

One we have a decision on that, we’ll start discussing what the goals and focus of the group will be.  But first, which one gets “top billing” for our Facebook group: Fan Films or Discovery?

Members can vote here.

Too SMALL to fail? The next steps for SMALL ACCESS…

I love the SMALL ACCESS Facebook Group.  It’s become a wonderful part of my life, and the people in the group really get along and behave nicely (well, for the most part!), and share both a love of Star Trek and a camaraderie that can really be FANtastic.  I love the articles and updates they share with the group (what a great news resource!), and the members usually have some fascinating insights and observations.

In this way, I feel very strongly that the SMALL ACCESS group has succeeded in a big way.  We’re nearly 1,350 members strong, and it really is a wonderful Facebook group to belong to.  I don’t want to see that end.

But we do have to face a harsh reality.  We had a goal to convince CBS to revisit and revise the fan film guidelines by trying to limit subscriptions to their All Access subscription service.  We gave it a good try, but after a year, the SMALL ACCESS Facebook group is not going to be a factor in any decision CBS makes regarding the guidelines or Star Trek: Discovery itself.

Had we been 50,000 strong or 100,000 strong, we might have gotten their attention.  But if Discovery generates the desired 4 million subscribers, then 1,300 more isn’t going to matter to CBS one way or another.  And if Discovery fails to generate those 4 million subscribers, well, then a measly 1,300 more certainly isn’t going to matter to them either.

Therefore, our initial reason for existing unfortunately seems to be a lost cause.  It was worth a try, but with the Discovery premiere now just five weeks away and CBS’s marketing push in full swing, SMALL ACCESS is nowhere near their radar.

So what do we do now?

Personally, I’d like for the group to keep going.  But I think it needs some re-branding with a new name and a goal that doesn’t involve trying to financially impact CBS All Access (hence my preference for a name-change from SMALL Access).

However, I’ve never been one to rule with an Iron Fist (or any of the Defenders).  So over the next week, I’ll be asking the members of Small Access what they’d like to do: re-brand with a new name and goal (which we’ll discuss if this option is chosen), stay the course and keep the old name and goal, or close up shop completely?  And the majority will rule out.

Members can vote here.

Was “NIKKY SYNDER” really ANTHONY SHUH? (follow-up editorial)

Coincidences are a funny thing.  Sometimes they’re simply random occurrences of pure chance.  On the other hand, the more coincidences you pile on top of each other, the less likely the two events are totally unconnected.

That’s the situation facing us in the disturbing case of the fictitious “NIKKY SYNDER,” a fraudulent Facebook account created back in June of 2016 and used primarily for bashing ALEC PETERS and Axanar.  The fake account was updated regularly with photos lifted from the Twitter updates of a woman who was NOT Nikky Synder.  In fact, she was a young TV reporter who, at the time, worked for a local news affiliate in Peoria, IL.  The 14-month ruse ended this past Tuesday when this young woman was made aware of the fraudulent account using her face and photos and reported it to Facebook.

Before Tuesday, “NIKKY SYNDER” had posted regularly on the SMALL ACCESS Facebook group—having joined on February 7, 2017…a day before the group completed a week-long poll to determine whether ANTHONY SHUH should be expelled for belligerent and insulting behavior.  Some suspected that “Nikky” might have been an alias that Anthony Shuh used to stay in the Small Access group.

I made clear in my blog from Tuesday that I was NOT making that accusation:

It’s a horrendous feeling of being violated, made worse by the fact that you can almost never discover the identity of the perpetrator. In this case, we have a suspicion, but even then, we aren’t certain…and I want to state that up front in this blog. We can’t prove anything or even make a firm accusation. Instead, all we have is an interesting series set of coincidences, which I’ll share…along with how the impostor was finally “caught.”

I shared a couple of those coincidences (but not all of them) in my previous blog post.  But then Anthony Shuh posted the following comment onto the Fan Film Factor Facebook page, and now I need to spend yet another blog post talking about something other than fan films (don’t worry, things return to normal on Friday with a great audio interview with Vance Major!).

Here’s what Anthony Shuh wrote that prompted this follow-up blog…

Continue reading “Was “NIKKY SYNDER” really ANTHONY SHUH? (follow-up editorial)”

JAMES CAWLEY announces the new STAR TREK FILM ACADEMY! (news and editorial)

This is what I get for going to Colorado instead of Las Vegas!  I wind up taking an antique train ride through the Rocky Mountains to visit an old silver mine with my son and my brother and his family…while at the same time, JAMES CAWLEY makes a HUGE announcement about fan films and CBS licensing!

It’s amazing the kind of cell coverage you get on a train in the middle of mountain wilderness, but it seemed like everyone was coming to me for answers about Saturday morning’s big news from the creator of STAR TREK: NEW VOYAGES and the officially licensed Star Trek Set Tour in the small and lovely town of Ticonderoga, New York.

Of course, I had no answers.  Yes, I knew the announcement was coming a few days earlier and that it involved James Cawley and his sets—but I didn’t know the details.  My news Saturday came from Carlos Pedraza’s Axamonitor blog site and TrekMovie.com.  And for those that haven’t heard yet, here’s the basic info…

Continue reading “JAMES CAWLEY announces the new STAR TREK FILM ACADEMY! (news and editorial)”

TERRY McINTOSH should be ashamed! (editorial)

I’m kinda sick to my stomach right now—so disgusted that I am quite literally nauseous—and I really don’t know how to deal with it other than blogging to try to clear this out of my head.

You guys might remember a few weeks ago when TERRY McINTOSH, the former marketing director for Axanar Productions, released an old version of the original full script for the AXANAR movie.  Even though he had signed a non-disclosure agreement (N.D.A.), promising to keep all Axanar-related materials private and confidential, he decided he was pissed off enough at ALEC PETERS that he no longer gave a shat about signed agreements or breaking promises.  The script, Terry believed, was so bad that releasing it would embarrass Alec, who had called it the best Star Trek script ever (or something like that).

In the end, it was mostly a tempest in a teapot.  I’ve now read the old script, and it wasn’t all that bad.  And now that I’ve read the two new 15-minute segments script, the outdated version of the full script doesn’t really ruin much of anything.  A lot has changed (obviously).

Anyway, y’know when Khan says, “I’ve hurt you…and I intend to go right on hurting you.”  Well, that seems to be Terry when it comes to Alec Peters.  Terry will chase Alec round the moons of Nibia and round the Antares Maelstrom and round Perdition’s flames before Terry gives him up!

But all kidding aside, Terry really doesn’t know when to stop, and now he’s carrying the vendetta to a very dark and troubling place.  But I don’t simply mean troubling to me.  Any reasonable Trekkie or Trekker should feel very concerned, as well…

Continue reading “TERRY McINTOSH should be ashamed! (editorial)”