Over the past few weeks, the world of streaming changed. A few weeks back, Amazon bought MGM for $8.5 billion, which may trigger a trend of consolidation and mergers. The players in the industry have been gobbling each other up recently — this includes the MGM news, but also Discovery merging with WarnerMedia (which includes HBO) and when Sony announced that they were licensing most all of their content to Netflix.
A few years ago, Disney shocked the world and bought Star Wars, Marvel, and Pixar, which allows them to flood their new streaming network with new content. But, all of this adds up to a lot of money spent and very little profit. The New York Times’ recent story painted a picture for these streaming companies where they must earn 200 million global subscribers to achieve profitability. Only Netflix has been able to do this so far.
In the United States, Netflix leads all streaming companies with 75 million subscribers, followed by Amazon Prime with 50 million. Disney+ had 45 million subscribers, while Apple TV+ boasts 40 million subscribers. Paramount+ has just 4.5 million subscribers, which is behind Hulu, HBO, and even YouTube Premium.
Recent headlines by many news outlets and investment experts say that ViacomCBS, the parent company of Paramount+ and “Star Trek,” could be next. Yahoo! Finance reports that ViacomCBS is the most “undervalued streaming company.” Statements like “undervalued” sometimes indicate that a company might be ripe for a hostile takeover. Some even think that Verizon or Apple should take over ViacomCBS.
ViacomCBS is not letting their ’close-to-last-place-spot’ from keeping them down. Barrett Media says that the company is moving ahead with a portfolio of professional soccer leagues to stream. ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish announced that the streaming service will soon offer one “A-Movie” per week.
But what would happen to “Star Trek” if ViacomCBS merges or is bought out by a larger competitor?
ViacomCBS & ‘Star Trek’ to WarnerBros.Discovery
CNBC’s Alex Sherman says that ViacomCBS should look to merge after the WarnerBros.Discovery deal is done. Sherman thinks that ViacomCBS joining Warner/Discovery makes sense because ViacomCBS does not have a CNN competitor. They do both have a network geared toward young people — Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon.
Fans on Comic Book Resources have a thread discussing what might happen if WarnerBros. acquired the Trek franchise. Comments include that it basically makes sense; since Disney owns Marvel and Star Wars, why not unite Star Trek and DC Comics together.
ViacomCBS & ‘Star Trek’ to Amazon Prime
Don’t think it could happen because Amazon just bought MGM, which comes with James Bond and a ton of other content? Remember how Disney gobbled up three studios one after the other? Amazon could do the same thing. They certainly have the money, and CEO Jeff Bezos is a massive fan of “Star Trek.” It’s true. He’s such a big fan that he found his way into an appearance on “Star Trek: Beyond.” Bezos says that his audio assistant Alexa is even modeled after the computers on “Star Trek.”
This move would make sense for Amazon, as they would gain ViacomCBS’s television library of over 140,000 shows and 3,600 film titles. Industry site FilmTake also says that ViacomCBS is cheap compared to other media companies which are available.
Interestingly, “Star Trek: Lower Decks” streams on Amazon Prime, not Paramount+ outside of the United States.
Trek would undoubtedly be loved in the hands of Amazon, as Bezos is such a huge fan. This would definitely be a change for the franchise, as former CBS boss Les Moonves reportedly did not like Trek. He was quoted as saying that some of the shows were “terrible.”
ViacomCBS & ‘Star Trek’ to Netflix
This might be a good pairing. As so many have reported, Netflix is shopping for “franchises.” In fact, Screen Rant even said that Netflix is looking for something “in the vein of Harry Potter or Star Wars.” A deal for “Star Trek” — as the closest thing to “Star Wars” — then would make perfect sense.
CBS and Netflix already have a cozy relationship, as Netflix paid for CBS to produce the first season of “Star Trek: Discovery.” Thanks to that deal, Netflix was able to secure broadcast rights to “Discovery” outside of the United States and Canada.
Netflix would then have access to all of those movies and television shows. Still, they’d also get the franchises they need to compete with Disney and Amazon. Oh, and “Star Trek” is a cash cow for ViacomCBS, as Forbes points out. By the numbers and synergies, it looks like this pairing makes the most sense.
Things Would Likely Change
Either way, the streaming world of “Star Trek” would likely change if any of those companies buys out ViacomCBS. There would probably be personnel changes (which occur all the time). But consider the last time “Star Trek” transitioned from one studio to another.
It was at the start, when Desilu and Paramount merged, “Star Trek” eventually got the treatment it deserved. No matter the reasons, under Desilu, Star Trek had meager budgets and had to struggle to survive — sometimes with letter-writing campaigns. In the 1980s and ’90s, Trek had films in the theaters and multiple shows on TV, all with more substantial budgets. In fact, “The Next Generation” show budget was $1.3 million per episode.
“Star Trek” is supposed to be entering a new golden age, after the film side (Paramount) and television side (CBS) are now under one roof. It is uncertain what could happen to the franchise with new ownership.