CBS Creative Chief David Nevins Talks Nurturing ‘Star Trek’ With Viacom Also Looking Outside For Streaming Profits


CBS Chief Creative Officer David Nevins said the company, when it soon completes its $30 billion merger with Viacom, will both nurture longtime franchises like Star Trek and take advantage of the seller’s market in streaming.

“We really believe in not only serving inside our own ecosystem but serving people outside,” Nevins said at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Communications & Entertainment Conference in LA.

Star Trek is a legacy brand that a combined ViacomCBS will be able to fully exploit from ad-supported TV to subscription streaming to film. “What we’re trying to do right now with Star Trek is build that brand,” Nevins said. “We want it to get younger and more relevant to people,” Nevins said. Viacom and CBS together can form a “virtuous eco-system,” he added. “If you’re smart about it, you can create a lot of value.”

The Gina Rodriguez-produced Diary of a Female President, on the other hand, shows the potency of the CBS operation when it meets a marketplace with surging demand due to streaming. Disney and Apple will each have new subscription services out in November. WarnerMedia is ramping up HBO Max. And, though its content road map remains unclear, NBCUniversal is planning a sizable ad-supported launch next April. Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, meanwhile, continue to spend significantly.

“We thought about it for The CW,” Nevins said of Diary. “But the lead is a 12-year-old girl. It didn’t feel like we had the perfect platform.” Instead, it sold to Disney+.

The influx of streaming contenders, Nevins said, means “there’s going to be a lot of rebuilding going on. … There’s going to be lots of interesting possibilities for bundling and distribution as these mega-platforms evolve over time.”

Nevins affirmed the “pure-play” status of ViacomCBS, taking not-so-thinly-veiled digs at Apple, Amazon and AT&T-owned WarnerMedia. “We’re not trying to drive the telephony or a hardware business, or a retail business,” he said. “Our game is to maximize the value and the revenue we can generate out of our content, be that on our platforms or others.”

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