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Old February 8 2013, 09:52 PM   #134
Temis the Vorta
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Re: Would it really matter if the next Trek series were on linear TV?

If Star Trek is an original Netflix series, why would Netflix ever take it away from subscribers? That happens when they lose streaming rights to stuff they buy from others, in which case, you could probably buy it on DVD or iTunes.

The idea that "you can only get X by subscribing to Netflix" is what locks in subscribers and gives Netflix a motive to do original series in the first place. Taking X away undermines that strategy, and since X costs them a trivial amount to keep available, why remove it?

Here's a tidy analysis of why movies and TV have diverged so hugely, I might as well post it here, since the upshot is to argue that streaming TV is following the premium cable TV model of development.

Hollywood is technically in the story-telling business. But it's really in the franchise-building business. The top 40 movies of all time are practically all sequels, adaptations, and reboots. Most of them have fight scenes and explosions. In a global industry where the top-grossing films make about two-thirds of their revenue outside of the U.S., and marketing budgets stretch into the tens of millions, the surest way to build profit for a studio is to make or buy a franchise. Then you sell sequels and merchandise and TV rights and never ever stop until you can go home after watching Fast and the Furious 6 at the multiplex to lay on your Fast and the Furious bed sheets, and play with your 2 Fast 2 Furious action figures while watching Five Fast on TNT ... in Beijing.

As Hollywood has gone global and mass-mass-market, different incentives for select television networks have helped to fill the void in quality entertainment. Here is Epstein explaining the rise of HBO as an original programming powerhouse:

HBO executives [created their] own original programming designed to appeal to the head of the house. Here it had several advantages over Hollywood. It did not need to produce a huge audience since it carries no advertising and gets paid the same fee whether or not subscribers tune in. Nor did it have to restrict edgier content to get films approved by a ratings board (there is no censorship of Pay-TV). And it did not have to structure the movie to maximize foreign sales since, unlike Hollywood, its earnings come mainly from America. As a result, HBO and the two other pay-channels, Showtime and Starz, were able to create sophisticated character-driven series such as The Wire, Sex and the City, The L Word, and The Sopranos. As this only succeeded in retaining subscribers and also achieved critical acclaim, advertising-supported cable and over-the-air network had little choice but to follow suit to avoid losing market share. The result of this competitive race to the top is the elevation of television.

Networks love the cable bundle for the same reason that viewers hate it: It's a relentless (i.e. dependable) transfer of money from households to networks, regardless of what television or how much television we watch. "Basic-cable channels have to broadcast shows that are so good that audiences will go nuts when denied them," Adam Davidson wrote in the New York Times. "Pay-TV channels, which kick-started this economic model, are compelled to make shows that are even better." Thus, television has seen a race to the top while Hollywood has experienced an ostensible race to the middle-bottom.
Star Trek is in a unique situation, in that it can span both movies and TV, by being flexible enough to adapt to both ecosystems. However, the style and substance will be very different. Some people are frustrated with Abrams' movies for being cartoonish and shallow, but that's just him adapting to the demands of the medium. On TV, we'd see something very different.
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