Star Trek is about to boldly go where no show has gone before: to the CBS streaming service.
In the latest development in a line of reboots and reimaginings on television, the Hollywood Reporter reported Monday that CBS is developing a Star Trek TV series set to drop in 2017. The first episode will reportedly air on CBS — and then that's it. The rest of the episodes will only be available on CBS All Access.
This is an as-yet unheard of distribution strategy, comparable to HBO producing a show only for HBO Go or HBO Now. As the only one of the big four networks — NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox — to have built an exclusive streaming service, CBS is in a unique position to experiment. In a press release about the series, CBS Digital Media's general manager, Marc DeBevoise, positioned it as an opportunity to grow CBS All Access.
The question now is this: Will it work?
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the latest incarnation of Star Trek "will introduce new characters seeking imaginative new worlds and new civilizations, while exploring the dramatic contemporary themes that have been a signature of the franchise since its inception in 1966."
Since its inception, Star Trek has taken on six TV identities, from The Original Series to the Patrick Stewart-starring Next Generation all the way to the 2000s series Enterprise. The franchise also has produced a dozen films, with a 13th on the way. J.J. Abrams directed the latest, Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness, to much critical fervor.
Considering the brand's resurgence, a revival series doesn't come as a shock. Next year is the 50th anniversary of the franchise — something CBS president David Stapf noted. "Everyone here has great respect for this storied franchise, and we're excited to launch its next television chapter," he said in the press release.
CBS All Access, which has old episodes of Star Trek in its libraries, costs $5.99 a month after a weeklong trial period. The service allows for both streaming of old episodes of shows and accessing live content on CBS without an antenna or cable subscription.
As a network, CBS has by far the oldest audience. CBS All Access could serve as their conduit to younger viewers looking to cut the cord, hence putting Star Trek exclusively on that platform. That said, as mentioned, Star Trek is a 50-year-old franchise, and the last TV series incarnation ended in 2005. It's probable that much of its fanbase is older and already has a way to access CBS. For them, CBS All Access is little more than a redundancy.
While this new series develops, fans will first enjoy another bit of Star Trek media: The unrelated Star Trek Beyond film is scheduled to hit theaters in 2016.