Star Trek: Discovery will rev its engines on CBS All Access “sometime late summer, early fall we’re looking at probably right now,” CBS chief Les Moonves told investors today at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference.
The series was delayed from the original plan to launch in May. “It’s important to get it right, and Star Trek is the family jewels,” Moonves says. “We’re not going to rush it in. There’s a lot of post production. But I’m very confident based on what I’ve seen so far.”
The company is counting on the new spin on the sci-fi saga to attract subscribers to the $5.99 a month digital service. Star Trek will be available exclusively on CBS All Access, broadening the appeal of the service that now mostly attracts viewers who want to catch up on CBS’ broadcast network shows.
“There are millions and millions of Trekkies out there,” he says. “We know for a fact that the other versions of Star Trek — there were seven other series, some of them were great and some of them were terrible — they all did really well on Netflix. That gave us great confidence that this was the right choice to put the full court press on All Access.”
Moonves kicked off today’s presentation saying that the mishandling of the Best Picture award announcement at the Oscars was “as big a screw up as I’ve ever seen.”
“It was pretty shocking,” he says. “We were half way out of our seats going back to get a drink when they said, ‘Whoa — wait a minute. Time out.’… All they have to do is give this guy an envelope that says Best Picture, and they didn’t do that. I’d be pretty annoyed. But it was pretty amazing. And you know what? We’ll talk about this Academy Awards for the next 100 years.”
Of particular interest to Wall Street, Moonves says that CBS wants to “get bigger.”
“We’re on the lookout” for potential acquisitions, he says. That would include “more content opportunities, more opportunities to build our existing businesses. Our balance sheet is in great shape. We would like to get more scale. Our management team can handle that.”
He adds, though, that “there’s nothing that’s coming close to us that we’re jumping all over. But we are looking forward to it.”
CBS explored a merger with Viacom at the behest of both companies’ owner — National Amusements, controlled by Sumner and Shari Redstone. But they decided not to go ahead.
With many different views of how each company should be valued, Moonves adds, “Shari wisely decided that it would be better for now that each company operate separately. We’re happy about it. I think the Viacom people are happy about it….I think it was the right decision for everybody involved.”