But would streaming provide enough profit to warrant Paramount to produce an expensive Trek series exclusively for streaming?
If you mean CBS, who has the TV rights (Paramount is movies only), I think it could be yes. Two factors are important here: TV is undergoing seismic changes that make it hard to predict just what will be profitable going forward; and CBS is well-heeled, since they are the fattest of the dinosaur broadcast networks and will be the last to fall (NBC looks to be the first).
So CBS shouldn't just look at short-term profit, but rather think about what they might try that will reveal the new landscape to them, so they can understand what they need to be doing in the future that is totally different from the past. And they have the luxury of being able to fund experiments.
The classic mistake for a corporation that is doing well in a dying industry is for them to continue to complacently rearranging the deck chairs until its too late, and they realize they should have done something five or ten years ago. Five or ten years ago is right now.
And honestly, I don't think TrekJJ has (so far) successfully made the idea of Trek more mainstream and appealing to the masses these days
JJ has been a success in the movie business. That's not the same as the TV business, and they're drifting further apart all the time. Movies appeal to a young, global market that wants visuals and action. TV is more skewed domestic, and the format lends itself to plot, character and complexity.
They are really two different beasts, both in form and in the underlying business. The audiences will have some overlap, but they are distinct. Streaming is the TV business - the future of the TV business, really - while movies will continue to focus on being bigger and better theater-based extravaganzas, which is how they can fight piracy.
Movies are motivated to create experiences that are piracy-proof in that you need a big theater screen to appreciate their benefit. Streaming is the opposite, focusing on small-screen values of characterization and story.
If someone pitched a Trek series with the cool factor and sex appeal of JJ Trek and a premise that had a Lost-like serial nature, then I could easily see any of the big 4 networks picking it up AND it would be profitable for the studio.
I don't see this at all.Star Trek
failed on broadcast, ending up with 3-4M viewers, too small for anyone to bother with, especially at that expense. And what has JJ Abrams changed about the situation? He's shown that if you spend $100M on eye candy, people will like Star Trek
again. That doesn't help TV.
I really think it needs a richer revenue stream, from subscriptions. You could also drive down the budget by skimping on the SFX, but at some point it will cease to be Star Trek
and why not just make another cop show if that's your goal?
If Under the Dome
is a success, and the next Star Trek
movie this summer is also a success, I could see CBS cobbling together a co-production with Netflix or Amazon, and showing the series both there and on CBS. If it gets 3M viewers on CBS, who cares? That's only part of the revenue stream, and not the most important part.
CBS gets another experiment that will show them how not to be a dinosaur before its too late. Netflix or Amazon gets a big, showy brand that helps them kick their competitor to the curb at a time in their development when that is going to pay off big future dividends. Everybody wins. (Well except for whoever doesn't win the streaming bidding war, and all of CBS's competitors.)