ViacomCBS Expanding Star Trek Franchise

ViacomCBS said it will be expanding its Star Trek franchise, producing new TV shows, movies and books.

The company is also going to be changing the programming mix at Showtime to include more reality and sports, plus programming aimed at black viewers from its BET cable channel.

On ViacomCBS’s earnings call Thursday. CEO Bob Bakish said the latest installment in the franchise, Star Trek: Picard, broke the record for total stream and subscriber signups for CBS All Access.

Related: ViacomCBS to Launch New Streaming Service

”We’re now taking the Star Trek franchise and extending it across the house,” Bakish said.

Bakish said there are two more Star Trek series in production, one for CBS All Access and one for Nickelodeon. There are two more series in development, he added.

There is a new Star Trek feature film at Paramount and a series of Picard novels are being rolled out from the company’s Simon & Schuster publishing company.

Related: Bakish Sees Streaming Revenue Up 35-40% in 2020

“We’re also maximizing the power of our content by applying more rigor to managing our content mix, investment and returns," said Bakish.

He said linear content levels will remain constant, while the company prioritizes stream and studio production.

Baskish pointed to Showtime as an area where the new strategy will be on display.

“Make no mistake, high-end scripted programming and hits like Billions, Shameless and Homeland will continue to be a key pillar of the brand,” he said. “But by shifting some of the content mix, including through use of ViacomCBS brand, we can attract subscribers in a more cost-effective way.”

A special new season of VH1’s RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars will appear on Showtime on a first window basis. Bakish said the move will boost the ROI of the RuPaul franchise.

“We see an even bigger opportunity to grow Showtime subs by making better use of its plex channels, some of which are currently underutilized," he said.

Showtime will rebrand its Showcase channel as Sho BET this summer. The channel will feature African-American scripted series from Showtime and BET, as well as popular movies and specials, he said.

Showtime will also use more unscripted shows, like Desus and Mero and The Circus and incorporate some Bellatore mixed martial arts content.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.