Star Trek fans are a devoted lot. They will shell out the $10-$15 to see a new movie about their beloved U.S.S. Enterprise as shown by the last few Star Trek movies. However, when they are already paying for cable television and a streaming platform or two, fans aren't interested in another monthly payment for another proprietary service in order to watch new episodes of a series they're not quite sure about yet.
#StarTrekDiscovery is the living proof. CBS offered fans the pilot episode for free, and it debuted to a robust 9.6 million viewers. However, if a fan wants to continue watching the series, a subscription to CBS All Access is required which costs $5.99 per month with commercials and $9.99 per month without. While Trekkies are excited about the project, they weren't excited about being strong-armed into paying a monthly fee. And so the illegal activity began.
Less than 24 hours after its debut, the pilot holds the #15 spot among Pirate Bay's most-pirated episodes. The second episode, which debuted on the proprietary CBS All Access platform, is #30 on Pirate Bay's most downloaded list. And while some Trekkies are making it clear they aren't going to pay, others have bitten the bullet and are making the commitment, as #CBS reported a record number of new signups to the streaming service. In fact, it broke a new record for subscriber sign-ups in a single day, but as the service is offering a one-week free trial, there's no guarantee all of those sign-ups will remain.
There has been a fair amount of backlash about this series being on a streaming platform as opposed to cable or available afterward on another streaming service, and many of the arguments are spot-on. A writer for Engadget nailed the sentiments of fans when she said CBS All Access does not have the content to justify its exclusivity like Netflix or Hulu:
"More and more companies are creating their own exclusive services, but you have to have the content to justify that. CBS All Access, at least as it exists right now, does not. Because the other offerings on the streaming service are so poor (it doesn't even have full back catalogs of many of its own shows), CBS is basically asking people to pay $7 a month for the privilege of watching one show, maybe two (with commercials. To remove them, it's $10 per month)."
And while not every #StarTrek fan is willing to go the piracy route, many are looking for ways around CBS' requirements, with several suggesting that people wait until the full season airs then subscribe for one month and binge watch all the episodes for only $10 without commercials, and plenty of others sharing logins and passwords. It's certainly a better way to go than to run the risk of being caught illegally downloading copyrighted content.