Why CBS Is Doing the Right Thing by Charging Viewers for the New ‘Star Trek’

Sep 26, 2017  •  Post A Comment

The decision by CBS to put its new series “Star Trek: Discovery” on the CBS All Access digital service — effectively charging viewers a subscription fee to watch the series — has been the source of widespread complaints among “Star Trek” fans and other viewers. But Scott Mendelson, who covers the film industry, writes in Forbes that CBS is doing the right thing.

Mendelson’s argument boils down to the economic model justifying the bigger budget the series needs to achieve its artistic goals.

“The first two episodes look quite expensive, with a middle ground between the more blockbuster-y recent ‘Star Trek’ movies and the old-school ‘smart, empathetic Starfleet folks stand on the ship and debate morality and science’ sequences,” Mendelson writes. “In at least the first two episodes, the show makes a solid case for the notion of bigger budget ‘Star Trek’ shows approximating much of what casual fans and hardcore Trekkers enjoy about the movies.”

He adds: “I’ve long argued that Paramount/Viacom Inc.’s ‘Star Trek’ reboot movies were too expensive, with the money going toward action spectacle that audiences didn’t want. This show, at a glance, is the happy medium.”

Mendelson also notes that “the sense of scale is quite impressive for a television show.”

Turning to that pesky subscription fee, Mendelson comments: “I get the opposition to paying a monthly fee to subscribe to a channel that offers a single show that entices you, even if I imagine that plenty of folks have done just that for ‘Game of Thrones’ or ‘Homeland’ or ‘The Handmaid’s Tale.’ But, if you like ‘Star Trek: Discovery,’ or at least you’re enough of a fan of the brand or the folks in front-of-or-behind the camera, you might want to consider paying for the immediate access. If we don’t pay for the art we enjoy there will be no money to create the art we crave.”

He also notes: “Folks who are paying $6-$10 per month to subscribe to CBS All Access aren’t paying to watch ‘Star Trek: Discovery.’ They are paying to watch ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ at the first possible moment that it is available. … In an era when TV shows are released on DVD and VOD after airing, subscribers are paying primarily for immediate access.”

We encourage readers to click on the link above to Forbes to read Mendelson’s full analysis.


  1. No it is not. It is pure greed by Moonves. Most of us with cable and sattelite already pay a lot ot CBS via re-transmission rights, and eventually VOD and online access. No reason we cannot get this show either. If CBS is hanging its hat on Young Sheldon, good luck with that. It was not very good.

  2. So, if you are a cable or dish subscriber, probably $2.00 per sub per month is already paid to CBS because that is what CBS charges the cable/dish companies to have a local CBS on the air. Now, CBS is wanting another $6 to $10 on top of that just to have access to (1) high profile show. Granted, there are other shows available on CBS All Access but they are using this occasion to get as much money out of everybody as possible. Plus, even if you get CBS off-air for FREE they want you to pay the same $6 to $10 for access to the same show. It is a money grab, pure and simple. Welcome cord cutters to your new future! The programmers will get their money out of you one way or another depending on your likes and wants.

  3. I’m a Trekkie. I have loved every iteration of Star Trek; some more than others. I did not like being forced to join all access but the “free” show was interesting so I thought I’d spring for the money. Then I saw a photo of the crew of Discovery joining the NFL protest. I’m a 24 year veteran with a Purple Heart and fought in wars so people have the right to protest. But when someone uses their fame to force their protest on me, instead of doing it on social media, I put my wallet back in my pocket and decided I’ll just have to live without Discovery. I don’t watch sports or tv to have you tell me your political views. I watch to be entertained. There is a time and place for everything and if entertainers don’t stick to entertaining me, they aren’t getting my money.

  4. I’m also a big Star Trek fan but won’t be paying to watch it. I pay enough already to Directv. I won’t pay twice to get access to CBS programming.

  5. It’s a sad day for all Star Trek fans and I am proud to be born disable CP Air Force brat.
    There is to much greed and CBS is trying to kill Free to Air terrestrial broadcast TV band and no FTA Ku band satellite if any left here in the good old USA!
    73’s for now,


  6. For years, CBS and the other broadcast networks have been trying to find a business model in which they don’t have to share revenue with their local affiliates. Looks like CBS found it and unfortunately, the Star Trek fans are paying for it — monthly.

  7. This is such utter rubbish. After watching the first episode, I was wondering if they might try to justify this with some sort of economic rationale based on the show’s budget. This “argument” makes Mr. Mendelson should like a paid shill for CBS, and the fact they aired this on OTA TV makes a lie of this argument.

    There’s an old expression about there being “something rotten in Denmark”. The more of Discovery that comes to light, the more we get to see just why CBS cut the legs out from under the Axanar project.

  8. And for an alternative take on how CBS is doing the “right” thing, check out the opinion expressed by the author of this Popular Mechanics article.


  9. Sorry, it’s just not good enough to pay to watch. From the debut, I could already tell the creators still don’t get what Star Trek was about.

  10. Based on what he has outlined I do understand Mr. Moonves’ overall plan for CBS AA and why he has done it this way. But what Mr. Moonves and others do not understand is that, for me and many others, it is not an issue of shelling out a few bucks to watch a new Trek series – I am going to end up doing that anyway when I buy it on DVD or dowload it through Amazon or another service – it is that I do not want to subscribe to yet another service. If it was offered as some type of extra pay subscription on a service that I already use or have, such as Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, etc.,I would right now be subscribed and be paying.the extra charge. But I am not subscribing to yet another service just for the one show, even if it is Trek. Do not get me wrong, they will still get their money from me, it will just be through a DVD sale (if the DVD is released quickly enough).

  11. I will buy it for one month when the whole season is available to binge. Then I will wait a year and pay for a month and binge again. Works for GOT, will work for Trek.

  12. I am a Star Trek fan and have been since the 1960’s, but I will not be paying to watch. I already pay a monthly fee for cable and cannot afford to pay any more as I am a widow on a limited budget. It’s a shame I will miss it, I would dearly loved to have been able to see it but I just can’t. I think those that decided this should be ashamed of themselves. I think you will be denying a lot of your long term fans the ability to continue to watch. I hope who ever made this decision will reconsider.

  13. I’m a super fan of Star Trek here in P.R. I sadly regret the CBS desision of charging an additional fee to its customers for the new series of Discovery. I will not pay any more than the CATV fee I already pay to watch them. BAD CHOICE CBS. You will keep loosing customers and someone else wiil get them.

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