CBS is touting the success of yesterday’s debut of Star Trek: Discovery, and it’s boldly going where many networks have gone before—claiming to have broken new records but offering no specific numbers to back it up.
In a press release, the network said its CBS All Access streaming service saw its most single-day sign-ups ever thanks to the latest entry in the famed sci-fi franchise. The old record, CBS says, was set during the 2017 Grammys. The problem is we have no idea what this record is, nor do we know how many subscribers All Access has. I reached out for more specific figures but was told by a CBS spokesman that they wouldn’t be sharing any new data. In August, CBS chief Les Moonves said the company’s streaming operations were on track to pass the 4 million-subscriber mark, but that’s only if you lump in Showtime.
All Access’s subscriber count matters because CBS has a lot riding on the service. The first episode of Discovery aired for free on the CBS broadcast network, but future episodes will only be available to paying All Access subscribers. And judging from some of the reactions on social media yesterday, many viewers see that strategy as a bait-and-switch tactic. Will hardcore Trek fans shell out another $6 a month when they’re already paying for Netflix, cable, Hulu, and god knows what else? For CBS it’s a risky bet—one that can just as quickly spiral into a Kobayashi Maru.