On success of Star Trek: Discovery, CBS plans expansion of All Access

Twilight Zone is headed for a reboot on CBSAA

In a quarterly investor’s conference call Thursday, CBS Inc. CEO Les Moonves said thanks to the success of Star Trek: Discovery, the fledgling over the top All Access service is expanding.

“At CBS All Access, we are benefiting from the 1-2 punch of a full season of the NFL and the launch of Star Trek: Discovery and the results have been phenomenal,” Moonves said. “Star Trek Discovery, in particular, has been a game-changer. The U.S. premiere episode led to new records in All Access signups in a single week and in the show’s second week, we topped that record once again.”

The series is shown exclusively on the CBS All Access (CBSAA) streaming service in the U.S. It is shown on the Space Channel in Canada and on Netflix in other overseas markets. “Internationally, the show has been a huge hit in many key territories,” Moonves said.

“It’s a very expensive program,” he said of the show that according to reports costs an average $8 million an episode. “Netflix covers much of the cost from the international rights.”

CBS recently renewed Discovery for a second season.

With CBSAA, the measure of success is not Nielsen ratings, Joseph Ianiello, CBS Chief Operating office said Thursday; it’s about “subs” – or subscribers to the service.

“As long as it’s growing subs, we’re going to continue to feed it,” he said of the series renewal and its future prospects.

Moonves said that the CBSAA subscription-based platform gives the company more leeway than traditional broadcast or cable. “All access is more premium than what is on CBS,” he said. “We are spending more on the product, but we don’t need as mass of an audience as we do on CBS. But, it needs to  be more specialized. It needs to stand out quite a bit.” In fact Moonves called All Access programming “ultra-premium” content, on par with that found on HBO and Showtime.

“The heart of out success is content. The only thing changing is the way consumers want to consume it,” Moonves said. “Where others worry about cord cutters, we don’t. We’re ready for them; we welcome that. In fact, where others are losing subscribers to cord cutters, we are growing.”

CBS made a few announcements about the future of CBSAA, including expanding its territory, programming, and services, including the previously announced occult “sex magick” series, Strange Angel, by Ridley Scott.

But CBSAA is not finished mining its treasure trove of well-known series from the past. It intends to capitalize on the current resurgence in anthology TV on the heels of Black Mirror’s recent success on Netflix.

“All Access will be the home of a new version of one of the most iconic television shows of all time, The Twilight Zone. We’re sure that we will dramatically boost subscribers once again,” Moonves said. The show will be produced by CBS Studios with Jordan Peele’s Monkey paw Productions, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

“And that’s not all. With Star Trek and Twilight Zone, we’ve just begun to tap the intellectual property we have at our disposal for future series,” Moonves said.

Beyond genre programming, CBSAA will be adding two 24-hour streaming news and information services: CBSN, a 24-hour live news network, and CBS Sports HQ, according to Ianiello.

“All access has grown into a remarkably powerful platform for us and we’re now gearing up to scale the service in a whole new way overseas,” Moonves said. This will start with Canada in the first half of 2018, followed by Australia shortly thereafter. CBS has previously said that even with the launch of All Access in Australia, future seasons of Discovery will remain available on Netflix in the country.

CBS has made to such assurances about Canada, leaving open the prospect that once CBSAA launches in that country, Star Trek: Discovery may disappear from the Space channel.