Why I love the ‘Star Trek’ streaming announcement

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 9.12.39 PMWill Star Trek do for CBS what House of Cards did for Netflix?

While I am curious to see what kind of Trek show eventually debuts on CBS in 2017, I’m more interested in seeing its impact on the network’s budding digital platform. Following this morning’s announcement that the new series was being developed for the streaming service, I tweeted that other networks should take notice. I’m sure they have, and local affiliates are taking notice too, because the day will come when all of the best network programming is only available through streaming.

Despite this whiny New York Post article’s claim that Trek is being relegated to a “second tier” platform, CBS knows exactly what it’s doing. This is just the next step in the company’s plan since launching All Access last year with a $5.99 per month subscription, which includes its own shows and content from local affiliates. The network is putting itself in a position in which it will no longer need the affiliates or cable companies to carry its programming. I’ve previously written that to combat this, affiliate companies need to keep developing their own original programming, or at least invest in digital media (Scripps acquiring podcaster Midroll is a great example of the latter).

That day may be far off into the future, but you can bet it’s on the mind of CEO Les Moonves, who hinted last year that the company was planning to produce digital-only programming. There’s even been talk of putting the NFL on All Access, which, pardon the expression, would be the ultimate game-changer. Star Trek is one thing, but you know how people go crazy for the football.

For now, Star Trek is the killer app that CBS hopes will get more people to sign up for All Access, just as House of Cards gave people a reason to subscribe to Netflix streaming (like the DVD business, the broadcast model isn’t what it used to be). Targeting the Trek audience is also a smart move; they are online, they are technophiles and early adopters, and they are dedicated to the franchise – they’ll pay the $6 to see a new series.

Even if you could care less about CBS programming, you have to salute the company for embracing the present – I’m not even going to say the future, digital is the now. All Access is not a second-tier platform, it’s the kind of service that every media company should have, especially the local affiliates, who risk someday losing out on quality programming that is streamed from someone else’s app.

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