Star Trek Discovery Offers A Bad Omen For the Future of Streaming

Star Trek: Discovery brought back this beloved franchise back to the small screen. Unfortunately, like so many other big-name sci-fi franchises, it marketed itself as a new “progressive” version. So they made a female Captain named Michael and turned the coolest race in the galaxy – the Klingons – into the evil Trump supporters the liberal elite hate so much. So, of course, it became the least watched series in Star Trek history. However, there might be other factors contributing to its downfall.

Ever since Netflix re-defined the field of entertainment by letting its customers to stream movies and television shows immediately from the comfort of their own homes, pretty much every entertainment network out there tried to make their own streaming services – making their network’s content exclusive. Then they have the brilliant idea of charging the same, if not more for their content than Netflix charges.

As described in a Forbes article back in September:

“While I knew that Star Trek: Discovery was a CBS All Access streaming exclusive, a service you have to pay for, I thought that would at least have the episode of Discovery they had literally just aired available to watch so I could see the ending. But no, even the pilot that had just been broadcast was locked behind a paywall. You can sign up for a “free trial,” but one that will immediately start billing you when that period ends.” – Paul Tassi, Forbes 

CBS is only one of the many companies rushing to rustle up their content and toss them behind the gates of their own streaming services. They’re hoping to get their audience to pay their network for the right to stream the shows they own. They all want a little taste of that Netflix money. While this might not seem like a big problem for anyone other than CBS and companies like it – this could pose a threat to the future of streaming as a whole.

Services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime work well because they are all collections of movies and shows from various networks. This allows them to have a wide range of content, which in turn, allows them to entertain a much larger audience. But with other networks trying to make their content exclusive – that strategy could come to an end.

A lot of people have already been spoiled by Netflix. It’s a great deal spending $10 to $20 a month to be allowed access to a whole world of entertainment. In other words, $10 to $20 let you enter a one-stop shop for entertainment. But now companies are refusing to share their toys – which means that the amount of variety one subscription buys you begins to dwindle.

Now you need to get a $10 Netflix subscription, then you need a $20 HBO subscription, then you need a subscription to Disney, or Vurv, or Funimation, and now CBS. And that’s on top of your cable bill. And I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking this is a bit ridiculous. In fact, I know I’m not alone here:

“I am not signing up for a CBS paid streaming service, so the only way it appears I’m going to be watching Discovery is if the show goes up on Amazon or iTunes to be purchased directly (I have no idea when or if that is happening). Others may just resort to flat-out piracy, and given my experience last night, it’s hard to blame them.” – Paul Tassi, Forbes

Even if Star Trek: Discovery wasn’t tainted by progressive politics and was a faithful resurrection of its golden age – I wouldn’t pay CBS a dime for it’s streaming services. Not even HBO is worth the money – and they have the clout to hold exclusive rights to top-tier content. In the realm of streaming, Netflix is still king because it offers variety – and tons of things to choose from. Any network trying to make a service for their content only will obviously lack the options we’re allowed to pick from. I’m not paying $10 to $20 per month just to watch your one big show. If you want me to subscribe to your service, you should follow in the footsteps of Amazon Prime.

Amazon Prime lets you stream shows and movies, but it also lets you order items at discounts and ship them for free. We need other benefits to make up for the lack of variety that Netflix has.

So what’s my point?

If every company runs off to make their own streaming service then the days of a wide variety will disappear. Sure Netflix will continue to produce Netflix originals but it won’t be the same. It’ll become just a slightly more convenient version of cable. You have to pay for every channel to watch their exclusive content. That destroys a big part of what made streaming sites like Netflix appealing in the first place.

Star Trek is dying – and CBS’ need to keep it exclusive is killing it.

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