At a reported $8M per episode, CBS lays out Sunday launch plans for 'Star Trek: Discovery'

Star Trek Discovery
CBS' "Star Trek: Discovery" will premier Sunday. (CBS)

This weekend CBS is stepping more fully into a new frontier: The company plans to premiere a new Star Trek show that it hopes will push its CBS All Access streaming service into the mainstream. The company’s goal is clearly to set its brand alongside streaming behemoths like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu.

Putting its new Star Trek show onto its All Access streaming service is “an attractive proposition for both converting and retaining subscribers, and it’s an attractive proposition for the show to be done in a new and different way,” Marc DeBevoise, the president and COO of CBS Interactive, told Wired.

CBS plans to broadcast "Star Trek: Discovery" on its linear channel Sunday night, the first time in a dozen years that CBS has offered a Star Trek-branded show. The show will end on a cliffhanger and CBS will direct linear TV viewers to its CBS All Access streaming platform, reported Adweek, where they will be able to watch the second episode immediately on Sunday night … as long as they pay the $5.99-a-month fee for the service.

“We scheduled it Sunday night, on CBS, after the premiere of '60 Minutes,' and an [NFL] doubleheader night. You can’t miss this,” CBS Marketing Group president George Schweitzer told Adweek.

“We hope it’s a watershed [moment] for the service,” DeBevoise told Adweek.

CBS executives explained that the first two episodes of "Star Trek: Discovery" will feature a cinematic-style story, and that the rest of the series will be more episodic, where stories and characters develop over the course of the show’s 13-episode season.

After the first two episodes debut on Sunday, the next six "Discovery" episodes will premiere weekly on Sundays through Nov. 5. Then the show will go on hiatus until January, when the season’s final seven episodes will begin airing weekly.

CBS All Access will also offer a "Discovery" aftershow, streamed live each Sunday night. Interestingly, CBS also decided to embargo reviews from TV critics until after the show's debut Sunday.

The average "Discovery" episode costs $8 million to $8.5 million, according to Variety. “It was like shooting a movie, the scale of it,” Michelle Yeoh, who plays Captain Philippa Georgiou, told Variety of making the show’s pilot episode.

CBS’ new Star Trek show will join ongoing series “The Good Fight” on All Access; the company recently said “Strange Angel,” “No Activity,” and “$1” will also be added to the service.

At last count, the Showtime OTT service had 1.5 million subscribers, and CBS All Access was reportedly not far behind. CBS chief Les Moonves said CBS All Access is now ahead of subscriber projections. He echoed earlier predictions that CBS All Access and Showtime together would garner 4 million subs by the end of the year, and will reach 8 million by 2020, adding that those numbers “may prove rather low.”

CBS was one of the first content owners to launch direct-to-consumer offerings for its national CBS network in 2014 and premium pay-TV network Showtime in 2015. The company has also announced a sports OTT network in the works.