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Why I’m not watching new ‘Trek’

Posted: October 12, 2017 3:23 p.m.
Updated: October 13, 2017 1:00 a.m.

For those of you who follow the goings on in the entertainment world, you might have noticed that the first new Star Trek TV show in 12 years debuted earlier this month.

And I’m not watching it.

The reason is simple economics: To watch “Star Trek: Discovery” would mean shelling out an additional $5.99 (or $9.99 for advertiser free) each month for the privilege of watching the show via CBS’ premium streaming service, known as CBS All Access.

(Note: I do not own a TV. I watch all my shows online. The amount of money I pay for internet service is about the same as I was paying for TV/internet/phone bundles less than 10 years ago.)

I’m already shelling out $9.99 each for Netflix and the premium version of Spotify. Netflix is ad-free and I pay for Spotify (which has a free non-subscription, ad-supported version) to avoid commercials and get other perks.

Those are my choices and I’m living with them. I’m also living with the choice of not watching the latest -- and, from the reviews so far -- greatest -- iteration of Star Trek on TV in order not to spend any more money.

CBS is not the only media outlet making decisions like this these days.

Disney, which owns the rights to the Marvel superheroes and Star Wars franchises, is planning on launching its own for-pay streaming service soon and will pull all its content from Netflix when it does.

DC Entertainment is planning on launching its own subscription service and, while, thankfully, it won’t pull its shows off The CW network (yet), there are some programs it’s planning on only showing there., which I first started buying from when it was an online book seller, is now offering original “TV” programming -- for a price. Hulu, which once had material you could watch for free, is only available by subscription now and includes live TV and original programming, such as the award-winning “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

The one bit of extra programming I did pay for this year was HBONow, a streaming service I used for two months in order to watch the latest season of “Game of Thrones.” The first month was free, but the season tipped over into the second month, which cost me $14.99. I used some of those two months to watch some movies I hadn’t gotten to see and to watch the first season of “Westworld” (what a cast!).

The one good thing about all these services is that you can cancel at any time. So, when I was done with “Westworld,” I cancelled HBONow and probably won’t use it again until 2019 when “Game of Thrones” returns.

The good news: The broadcast networks are still making it relatively easy to watch most of their programming online, for free, since they are ad-supported.

CBS makes a limited number of its first-run programming available for free, next-day viewing. As the TV season rolls along, episodes get moved over to CBS All Access.

NBC appears to still be doing the same, although I’m not sure about its mobile app where I thought I saw a number of episodes locked in some way.

The CW, co-owned by CBS and Warner Bros., also makes their shows available the next day.

ABC and FOX lock their shows for a week.

There is a big exception to all this. You can watch shows, including some “live” (as they air) by proving you are a cable subscriber.

Wait, what?

I have to prove I have a cable subscription in order to watch a show online instead of on cable TV?

What kind of lunacy is this? Why should I have to pay for cable TV in order to watch a show online? Oh, yeah, corporate America.

So, in order to watch TV shows the way “everyone else” does, I would either need to buy a TV with a digital antenna -- OK, maybe, but that seems kind of limiting -- or buy a TV and sign up for the cable TV service I didn’t want to bother with in the first place.


And that brings me back to “Star Trek: Discovery.” Even if I owned a TV with digital “rabbit ears” or signed up for cable TV, I still couldn’t watch it because it’s only available via CBS All Access for an additional $5.99 or $9.99 a month.

On top of that, while I’m still excited about the show and plan to watch it someday, I’m somewhat disappointed that it takes place in Star Trek’s “past.” “Discovery” is set 10 years before the events of the original series (not the J.J. Abrams movies).

Star Trek is about looking forward and the franchise hasn’t done that since the last “The Next Generation” movie and “Voyager” TV series.

I wish “Discovery” were set in 2517, 113 years after some of the events in “Voyager’s” finale. I think that would have made it even more compelling -- to see how the Federation was doing, yet another “generation” on.

Meanwhile, if anyone has any extra gold-pressed latinum to spare, I still wouldn’t mind watching “Discovery” as it “airs.”


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