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Netflix

Launched on 23 August 1997, Netflix is a streaming video-on-demand provider based in the United States and available in over 190 countries worldwide, its "Netflix Original Series" either dubbed in the language of the target country or subtitled. [12] Outside the United States and Canada, it was the first-run broadcaster of the first three seasons of Star Trek: Discovery, with episodes premiering one day after their release on CBS All Access, starting on 25 September 2017 and ending on 16 November 2021. The series is slated to begin rolling out in other markets on Paramount+ (the rebranded name for CBS All Access) beginning in 2022. Discovery has temporarily moved to Pluto TV in markets where Paramount+ has not yet launched. The move to pull the series from Netflix was made just days before the premiere of the show's fourth season. [13]

The company also had the rights to stream the six previous television series, however, all but The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine were removed in the United States at the end of September 2021. [14] The Star Trek films are available intermittently.

In April 2011, it was announced that the company had signed a two-year deal with CBS to begin streaming the various Star Trek series in the United States. Streaming of the remastered version of Star Trek: The Original Series, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Voyager, and Star Trek: Enterprise began 1 July 2011. By September 2011, Star Trek: The Animated Series was available as well, although it wasn't part of the original deal. Streaming of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine began on 1 October 2011. [15]

In Canada, Netflix made The Next Generation available in late 2012, then removed it on 1 December 2013. It was re-added to Netflix Canada in July 2014, later to be taken off in early 2016. As part of the Discovery deal, all six series were made available on July 1, 2016.

On 18 July 2016, Netflix's exclusive deal for Discovery was announced. [16] The company beat off competition from Hulu and Amazon Prime to secure the rights. [17] The distribution deal also included worldwide streaming rights to the six previous television series, which were made available by the end of 2016 alongside the thirteen Star Trek films whose streaming rights Netflix had already acquired from Paramount Pictures – then not part of the CBS conglomerate (see below). The deal did not come cheap however, as CBS president Les Moonves divulged in a September 2016 interview to Variety; according to Moonves, Netflix had agreed to pay for all first season production costs, sight unseen. [18] This however, turned out to be an instance of a CBS president boasting to the (shareholder) audience, as the actual situation turned out to be a little more nuanced.[1]

In the United States, the company also offers a DVD/Blu-ray Disc mail rental service; all Star Trek DVD and Blu-ray Disc releases are available for rental.

In 2018, engineers from Netflix sent a phone playing Discovery into space. [19]

The Netflix series The Toys That Made Us started its second season with an episode focusing on toys and models from Star Trek. It included interviews with, among others, Rod Roddenberry, Doug Drexler, and John and Bjo Trimble.

Streaming wars

After a tentative start, Netflix became a huge world-wide success story in the 2010s, easily beating off the competition which they left in the margins of the market, including CBS All Access and Hulu. As a result, Hollywood studios, especially those still without streaming platforms of their own, made Netflix their first choice to stream their productions, which included Paramount, who chose Netflix over CBS All Access. This rather peculiar state of affairs – peculiar because Paramount and CBS used to belong to the same (old) Viacom conglomerate before it was split up on 1 January 2006 (see: main article) – was caused by the intense rivalry between Les Moonves (head of the then newly-formed CBS Corporation) and Philippe Dauman (head of of the newly-formed, Paramount-owning Viacom). [2] Dauman had no intention of helping Moonves out with his pet project CBS All Access, on which the latter had staked his career and fortunes, and after Moonves' CBS had slapped Viacom with hefty license fees for the right to produce films from franchises, including Star Trek and Mission: Impossible, that had originally been Paramount properties to begin with, but which were stripped from them in the split without the slightest compensation in any form or format whatsoever. And while this rivalry seriously hurt the interests of both companies eventually, [3] [1] it also benefited Netflix greatly, helping it to become absolute streaming market leader for the better part of a decade with relative ease, though it also made it complacent.

That cushy position for Netflix came to an end on 12 November 2019, when Hulu-owner The Walt Disney Company launched its streaming service Disney+. Disney had in the meantime acquired major Hollywood studios such as Lucasfilm Ltd., Pixar, Marvel Studios, and 20th Century Fox, and their corresponding intellectual properties (IPs), which included such crowd-pleasing franchises as Star Wars, Aliens, The Marvel Cinematic Universe, Disney's own properties, and the very popular Pixar productions. Market analysts had already accurately predicted that Disney's unbridled expansion drive would inevitably lead to a "streaming war" as Disney would pull all these productions from competing streaming services, Netflix in particular, once their own was up and running. [20] History has shown that this indeed came to pass, and it left Netflix in dire straits, forced by the substantial loss of popular content to respond by considerably stepping up its investments in the production of original content, including content of foreign origin to better serve foreign markets.

Nor were Netflix' woes over yet, as other streaming services, inspired by the breakout success of Disney+, have embarked on similar expansion paths to better compete with Netflix, such as Prime Video, and CBS All Access, which was after the reunification of the two former separate conglomerate parts, rebranded as Paramount+, this time with a combined Paramount/CBS catalog. [21] Both streaming services are in the process of pulling all properties they own from Netflix as well. By 2021 for example, all Star Trek films – Star Trek excepted – were despite the 2016 deal already withdrawn from Netflix by ViacomCBS. While Netflix as market leader had become the most obvious primary target in the billions of US dollars involving "streaming wars" for all the other (up-and-coming) streaming services, they were not above targeting each other as well, [4] truly justifying the "streaming wars" qualifier. [22] [23]

However, because of its large library – the substantial loss of popular content notwithstanding – worldwide coverage and the stepped-up production of quality original content, [5] Netflix still holds a competitive edge as of 2021 when it passed the (worldwide) two hundred million subscriber mark in January that year, [24] but Disney+ and Prime Video are rapidly gaining ground, the latter in particular through its May 2021 acquisition of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and its catalog (Netflix therefore standing to lose its crowd-pleasing James Bond film library as well), making Prime Video the second-largest streaming service in the world with 175 million worldwide subscribers, second only after Netflix. [25]

At the end of September 2021, Star Trek, Star Trek: Voyager, and Star Trek: Enterprise were all removed from Netflix in the United States, leaving Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as the only remaining Star Trek series on the platform in that market. [26] In November 2021, the first three seasons of Discovery were removed from the platform in all markets, though, in Europe at least, all the other series remained available on the streamer for the time being. The expectation is, that they too will be yanked from the streamer globally, once the worldwide roll-out of Paramount+ comes into in effect somewhere during 2022. The removal of Discovery from Netflix was timed to coincide with the premiere of its fourth season[1]. [27] Following fan outcry, it was later announced that the series would be rolled out 26 November 2021 on Paramount+ in those markets in which Paramount+ is already available. For those markets currently without the service, the series will instead be made available via the free ad-supported service Pluto TV. [28]

On 7 December 2021 at the UBS Global TMT Virtual Conference, ViacomCBS president Bob Bakish explained the decision to cut out Netflix as follows, "As we increasingly transition to leveraging our particular franchises and original production for our owned and operated streaming assets, principally Paramount+... that, in turn, will create a decline in that third-party business over time as these deals roll off. I would note that as an example of that, we just took back Star Trek: Discovery internationally from Netflix. And so, we now have that property globally. That's clearly a core franchise for us, and it's working," further implying that third-party licensing revenues were expected to decline rapidly in the near future, including those from Netflix for other shows. [29] It appears that the November 2021 termination of the Discovery streaming rights came with financial compensation for Netflix, [30] which could only mean that the streaming rights contract had not expired yet, and that some sort of pay off was called for.

It also became clear at the conference that the September 2021 withdrawal of the other Star Trek series came without financial compensation for Netflix USA, as ViacomCBS had chosen not to extend the streaming rights deal once they had expired after the pre-negotiated timespan had lapsed. Bakish's remarks about the "roll-offs" indicated that global Netflix were soon to follow.

Footnotes

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Netflix was actually one of the disappointed third-party investors as it had paid US$6 million, or 75% of the total production costs, per episode for the exclusive worldwide streaming rights of the first Kurtzman-era Star Trek production, Star Trek: Discovery, season one. [1] A highly criticized and controversial production which caused division in the Star Trek fanbase, it gave rise to persistent and continuous internet rumors that Netflix felt overcharged and lied to by CBS, because the fan discontent had in their eyes caused the series to become a money-losing investment. [2] Not only that, but as early as of May 2018 financial magazine Forbes even speculated in an editorial that CBS had sold Discovery to Netflix as a "Trojan horse" in order to (financially) destroy the streaming service from within, [3] which would actually explain the often reported over-budget expenditures for Discovery's first season. [4] [5] While still speculation, the fact remained that the Discovery production had to contend with severe budget cuts from its second season onward, [6] [7] implying that production funding had been dialed back substantially. Additionally, Netflix did not sign up for any of the later Kurtzman-era Star Trek productions, excepting the first season of Star Trek: Short Treks, which, however, was already withdrawn from the Netflix library after having been streamed for only a few weeks, only in the trailer section of the Discovery listing. The second season was not picked up by any streaming service beyond CBS All Access. Netflix had the rights of first refusal for the international distribution of any spin-offs of Discovery, but was obliged to bid for any standalone series – as unilaterally interpreted by the franchise – such as Star Trek: Picard and Star Trek: Lower Decks, which eventually were picked up by Prime Video. [8]
  2. Moonves and Dauman were in a vicious fight over who would succeed Sumner Redstone as Chairman-of-the-Board of holding conglomerate National Amusements; Redstone's decision to break up (old) Viacom was in part motivated to tighten his grip on his holdings by playing both CEOs off against each other – a classic case of "divide and conquer". Neither man would ever attain the lofty position, if either had ever been considered in earnest by Redstone at all, as it was rather Redstone's daughter Shari who eventually succeeded her father, in the process destroying the careers of both Moonves and Dauman. It was Shari Redstone who reunified her company after both men were removed from the mix. (see: main article)
  3. CBS All Access performed nowhere near the high hopes and expectations Moonves had over-confidently prognosticated the shareholders and third-party investors, causing his position to come under intense Board scrutiny, even before his eventual downfall because of the #Me Too movement allegations of sexual assault and sexual misconduct. [9]
  4. After Apple had unveiled plans to expand their activities on its own streaming service Apple TV+, CBS All Access promptly announced that it planned to make it and its successor Paramount+ streaming service no longer accessible on most Apple devices. [10]
  5. While initially not considered as "bonafide" theatrical or television productions and therefore snubbed as "upstarts" at first, Netflix Original productions are increasingly recognized and lauded for their quality from the late-2010s onward by the industry through their award systems such as the Academy Awards, Emmy Awards (the Netflix series The Crown for example, scored almost all major awards at the September 2021 awards ceremony [11]), Golden Globe Awards, and others, not only by being nominated, but by starting to regularly win several of these too. In this, Netflix actually turned out to be the trailblazer for the other streaming services as well, as Prime Video and Disney+ have subsequently started to likewise rack up an ever increasing number of industry award wins for their original productions.

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