In January of 2006, media mogul Sumner Redstone split the CBS television network from its parent company. On Wednesday, after the market closed in the U.S., a merger finalized that brings to the companies back together. The ViacomCBS deal closes after a long period of negotiation, and it reunites the two halves of the Star Trek franchise once again. Earlier this year, Disney’s purchase of 21st Century Fox assets reunited the Marvel mutants with Marvel Studios. The Star Trek franchise faced a similar split because of the 2006 split.
As fans know, after the success of Star Wars, Paramount Pictures brought the original series cast back for Star Trek: The Motion Picture. While not the most-beloved installment of the franchise, it spun off a whole universe of films. The original cast appeared in six feature films between 1979 and 1991. Then The Next Generation cast got their own series of films, which ran until 2002. Characters, such as Michael Dorn’s Worf, were able to jump back and forth between the movies and the series. Still, once the companies split, things became more complicated. Thankfully, the new ViacomCBS deal solves this problem and reunites Star Trek once again.
Why the ViacomCBS Deal Reunites Star Trek Properties
Image via Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures, owned by Viacom, owned the rights to the Star Trek film series. Meanwhile television rights for Star Trek belonged to CBS. This is why on Star Trek Discovery, a new actor had to be cast for the role of Spock. Zachary Quinto still does television, as AMC’s NOS4A2 proves. So, even if he’d been game for it, the rules under which the franchise operated wouldn’t allow it. This also meant that the two operations worked separately, like Jeph Loeb’s Marvel Television unit worked separately from Marvel Studios and Kevin Feige. Even though they tried to make it work, there was never the kind of synergy there that used to exist in Star Trek. So, with the ViacomCBS deal finalized, the television side of Star Trek reunites with the film side once again.
This means that characters from the films might pop up in future CBS All Access series. The new series with Patrick Stewart, Picard, may be a one-off. Yet, they could incorporate that character in a future film perhaps. Or, they could use the CBS All Access Series to serve as a launchpad for future film properties, like the 1990s generation of the franchise did. It brings the show back to the place where it was when creator Gene Roddenberry was still alive. The same creative minds can serve as a guiding force for Star Trek properties. This way, ViacomCBS can present various Star Trek properties that all feel connected in the way fans want their franchises to be.
Why the Merger Is a Big Deal for Media in General
Image via CBS Interactive
Of course, that the ViacomCBS deal reunites Star Trek franchises is just one major development as a result of the merger. This better positions ViacomCBS to compete with mega-media companies like Disney or Warner Bros. This means that Paramount Pictures (along with Showtime, MTV, Comedy Central, et al.) can all consolidate behind CBS All Access. As the streaming wars heat up, ViacomCBS can refuse to extend or cut new deals they have with other services. ViacomCBS property Nickelodeon currently has a deal with Netflix. It’s possible that when that contract is over, they bring their properties back “home” to the ViacomCBS streaming service. (Again, this is just like how Marvel teamed with Netflix and then ended the partnership when Disney+ happened.)
As good as it is that Star Trek TV reunites with its film side, the ViacomCBS deal means more consolidation of media. This leaves just a few companies controlling television channels, feature film distribution. The fear is that ViacomCBS (along with Disney and WarnerMedia) will double-down on existing IP, and release only a torrent of sequels, reboots, and franchises. Some folks feel that a diversified media economy is a better place for creators and consumers.
On the other hand, this merger means that ViacomCBS is better equipped to survive the streaming wars and the changing media landscape. With many television stations, a movie studio, and more than one streaming service, they need content. In fact, some might argue that it’s the best time to be a creator because of all the outlets available.
What do you think? Are you happy that the ViacomCBS deal reunites Star Trek and other outlets and franchises? Or do you not like it? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.
Featured image via CBS Interactive
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.