A new trend has started with networks and their television shows. Instead of trying to hook you with their television shows by airing them and then creating buzz (or creating buzz first and then airing them), they’re trying a new process of trying to hook people by presenting one episode in one location and then hoping that will lead to return viewership in their usual location.
An example: A new series, Marvel’s Inhumans, was going to start this season. But rather than air it on television (where the show would actually appear), they decided to have it appear in IMAX as a theater presentation and then show up on television. It bombed horribly. Imagine that. Turns out, people don’t want to go to the movies to watch a television show. What a shocker. When IT was released a week or so later, IMAX removed Inhumans and put in an actual movie.
Another example is Star Trek’s Discovery. While I’m one of those who loves the idea of a new Star Trek show, this one isn’t going to be on the regular network but is being used to sell CBS’s long running pay station, as it will only air there (and on Netflix if you’re overseas). The first episode will air pretty much everywhere, and then after that you need to pay the fee to watch content on CBS’s online site.
In case you don’t know this, CBS’s paywall site has been around for years. I signed up for it ages ago when I wanted to watch a couple of shows that were hard to find, especially when I cut my cord. But after about a year, I realized it wasn’t really giving me anything superior to Hulu, so I discontinued it. I don’t intend to start it back up again just to watch one television show. Just isn’t worth it.
But CBS is convinced that Star Trek is just a strong property that it will result in huge sales of its paywall channel. We’ll see what happens, but I’m not really holding my breath.
People who watch television generally want one of two things: Make it free, or make it convenient. Free is easy, but to make something convenient, you need to avoid making it a hassle to have to go through another service just to watch television programming. So far, most of these companies haven’t done that well. CBS certainly hasn’t. So, we’ll see what happens.