Bloomberg Businessweek

To Boldly Go and Leverage a Legacy Brand

CBS’s Les Moonves thinks his new Star Trek show will get you to pay $5.99 for his app

For decades, Star Trek has transported fans to the far corners of the universe: from Aldebaran, where the Enterprise crew harvested mud leeches, to the Sigma Draconis system, where they recovered Spock’s stolen brain. Now the franchise is voyaging to a perilous sector rife with the most terrifying enemies it’s ever faced: streaming video.

This fall, CBS Corp. is rolling out the first new Trek series in more than a decade. Unlike the five series preceding it, Star Trek: Discovery won’t be on traditional TV. The pilot aired on the network on Sept. 24, but subsequent episodes can be viewed only on CBS All Access, a streaming app that costs $5.99 a month. Discovery is set in a time of galactic war, and it arrives at a similarly fraught moment in TV. After years of denying the threat from Silicon Valley, media conglomerates are now, with varying levels of urgency, trying to figure out how to survive in the era of Netflix and YouTube.

CBS has a head start on its peers and lots of cash to woo the growing hordes of cord cutters; in 2016 it had $1.6 billion in net earnings on $13.2 billion of revenue. At the moment, the company still makes the bulk of its money from

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