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New Star Trek TV series coming in 2017 to CBS' streaming service (update)

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Writer/producer Alex Kurtzman is developing a Star Trek television show, reports The Hollywood Reporter. It would return the venerable science fiction franchise to its original medium, television, for the first time in a decade.

Kurtzman co-wrote and served as producer of the reboot-via-time-travel film Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek Into Darkness, its less-than-well-received sequel. He is not involved in the upcoming Star Trek Beyond, which many hope will represent a return to form for the franchise.

Kurtzman's adaptation, which will be produced by CBS, is currently looking for a writer. Progress on a new Star Trek television show has been slow in part due to rights disputes following the Viacom/CBS merger. The Hollywood Reporter says that "a formal announcement with additional details is expected to come later this morning."

Update: And that formal announcement has some big news: Star Trek will boldly go into the realm of digital distribution in January 2017.

"The new series will blast off with a special preview broadcast on the CBS Television Network," the statement reads. "The premiere episode and all subsequent first-run episodes will then be available exclusively in the United States on CBS All Access, the Network's digital subscription video on demand and live streaming service." This will make the series the first original content for CBS' $5.99/month streaming service, CBS All Access. Internationally, the series will be distributed "concurrently for television and multiple platforms."

The announcement also notes that the new series is "not related" to Star Trek Beyond, likely for rights reasons. In the Viacom/CBS merger, CBS absorbed Paramount's television properties, while Paramount Pictures retained film rights to Star Trek.

To sum up: Star Trek will return to television for a series preview, and it seems like the series will be available only through CBS All Access, CBS' subscription-based streaming service. A price of $6 per month certainly seems steep for a single television show, and CBS touting the presence of every other episode of every Star Trek television series on the service isn't much of a balm. Potential viewers likely have existing subscriptions with more popular streaming services, such as Netflix, that also have all of those episodes.

Then again, the return of Star Trek to the format of a serial television drama for the first time in 10 years — and just in time for the series' 50th anniversary — may be the two-ton gorilla of digital content.