DS9 doesn't have pop culture awareness and I don't see that changing too much in the future.
However, because space opera can't survive on broadcast anymore, the next series will have to be on cable or straming only services like Netflix, where the old episodic format for drama is completely passe. Even DS9s mixed serialized/episodic format is questionable. The days of episodic Star Trek may very well be over for good.
Ditto for tone. These days, something like Falling Skies is the most wholesome you get for cable drama (other than maybe those quirky cop shows on USA). That tone is pretty comparable to DS9, so the next series will be no lighter than that and perhaps much darker/sexier/more violent, depending on where it ends up.
Use of Time wrote:
I don't know about growing popularity but I have found that it is easier to turn non Trek fans onto this series than any other I have tried.
That's not surprising given the way TV has been trending. Everyone I know watches nothing but cable dramas now, since broadcast is so sanitized and boring. DS9 is the only Star Trek series that looks even like the more vanilla type of cable drama.