In late 2019, CBS and Viacom merged, bringing the two companies back together following their split in 2006. The two companies have a convoluted history dating back to the 1950s, when Viacom was created as the distribution arm of CBS. Viacom spun off in the 1970s, eventually acquiring Paramount Pictures and other media companies, then acquired its former parent in 1999. Following this latest merger, CBS has announced that it will be expanding, renaming, and revamping the CBS All Access streaming service this summer, and has added content from Viacom properties like Paramount Pictures, Nickelodeon, MTV, BET, and Comedy Central. This massive expansion gives the service a diverse range of content that will allow it to truly become competitive against rival streaming networks like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and most notably Disney+, which has exclusive in-house properties like Star Wars, Marvel, Fox television, and National Geographic.
Star Trek was mentioned multiple times in the announcement that All Access would be expanded and rebranded, as it has been credited many times over the past three years with helping to drive subscribers to the service. CBS seems to want more from that well, and many new Star Trek series have been announced.
In addition to the forthcoming third season of Star Trek: Discovery, which has seen a delayed release due to a slowing of post-production work as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, CBS has also announced a second season of Star Trek: Picard, a Discovery spinoff featuring the clandestine spy organization Section 31, an animated series titled Star Trek: Lower Decks, a second animated series for Nickelodeon aimed at a younger demographic, and most recently the long-rumored series Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, which is both a spinoff of Discovery as well as a prequel to the original Star Trek, featuring the U.S.S. Enterprise under Captain Christopher Pike, who commanded the ship prior to the original series’ Captain Kirk. A third season of the short-form anthology series Star Trek: Short Treks has not yet been officially announced, but seems likely as well.
Given the astonishing amount of new Star Trek content being produced for All Access, and the on-again, off-again nature of the Star Trek feature films over the past few years, coupled with both the influx of Paramount films to All Access and the uncertain future of the traditional theater box office in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, it also seems likely that future Star Trek films may be produced and distributed via All Access in the coming years.
This is a renaissance for Star Trek. An incredible amount of new content is being created, with very high production values, and it is driving the future of an entire television streaming network.