Ever since jumping into the 32nd century, Star Trek: Discovery has had a new lease on narrative life. In addition to the character consequences that organically come from an entire crew leaving their friends, family, and homes for a future entirely unknown, Season 3 began to delve into an exploration of what the Federation looks like centuries after most of the events featured in the Star Trek franchise. Last season, we found out what caused “The Burn,” the mysterious event that led to millions of Federation members dying when warp cores across the system near-simultaneously exploded. (Spoiler: it was a traumatized kid.) In Season 4, we will the Federation move on after that discovery, continuing to build back the foundation of the organization that has come to represent the hope at the heart of the Star Trek narrative.
But what will that foundation look like? Which alien races and planets will be a part of it? We got a glimpse of an answer to those questions in the trailer for Season 4, which shows the Federation leadership around a table. In the group, we see some familiar characters, including Ni’Var President T’Rin. We also meet some new characters, including the already much-discussed Federation president, whom we know from promotional interviews has a mix of Cardassian, Bajoran, and human ancestry—the main races involved in the struggle at the heart of Deep Space Nine story. The character seems to be straight-up DS9 fanbait, and I’m not complaining.
In an unexpected move, Deadline reports that ViacomCBS has bought back the international rights to seasons 1-3 of Star Trek: Discovery.
Before this buyback, essentially every region outside of the United States and Canada carried Star Trek: Discovery. In total, 188 Netflix countries used to carry Star Trek: Discovery. Not only that, it does so as a Netflix Original complete with Netflix Original branding and intros.
Some of the major regions that carry Star Trek: Discovery includes:
All this is because ever since season 1, Netflix purchased the international distribution rights for the show which means it’s exclusive to Netflix. In a similar vein, Amazon Prime Video picked up the international streaming rights to Star Trek: Picard and Star Trek: Lower Deck.
- Netflix UK
- South Korea
However, with ViacomCBS set to release Paramount+ across Europe, the network decided to not license season 4 to Netflix and in addition, all three prior seasons were removed on November 16th, 2021.
Star Trek: Discovery is expected to be inaccessible via streaming until 2022 which is when Paramount+ is planned to release around the world.
In the US, of course, ViacomCBS has opted to keep the streaming rights to Star Trek: Discovery exclusive to Paramount+ in the hopes that you go and subscribe to that service to watch.
In Canada, the series will remain with Bell Media and their streaming service Crave for the foreseeable.
Rating: 5½ / 10
The first episode of Season 4 of "Star Trek: Discovery" is available to watch now and subsequent installments will drop every Thursday on Paramount Plus in the U.S. However, in a move that's upset rather a lot of people, "Discovery" has been removed from Netflix in all non-US/Canada regions and will not be available until Paramount Plus launches in wider European regions next year. This will not impact Canada's availability (on CTV Sci Fi / Crave) or the US region. "StarTrek: Picard" and "StarTrek: Lower Decks" will continue to be on Amazon in non-US/Canada territories.
Up until relatively recently, most intellectual property (IP) owners sold rights for TV and movies through paid TV, physical home video, and cinema. The concept of online streaming was seen as a non-priority. Then everything changed—and quickly. As Netflix’s popularity soared, Disney grabbed back the streaming rights to its vast catalog and launched Disney+ in November 2019, raking in 118 million subscribers to date. Others are following quickly—from Discovery+ to HBO Max and Britbox. And as streaming services scramble to produce more original content, anyone wanting to sit down and watch their favorite TV shows is left with a headache. Rather than subscribing to a single streaming service, with each passing year people are being asked to fork out more and more to access rival platforms.
“A lot of fans, in the UK and around the world, are outraged that they'll have to pay for yet another subscription service to enable them to see Discovery, and eventually the rest of the Star Trek TV series,” says Leckie. Glenn van t’Hof, a Dutch Star Trek fan, is more blunt. “What a dick move to announce this two days before the supposed European release date,” he says. “This is no service to the fans.” Leckie believes the move—which prevents people outside the United States and Canada from seeing season four of Discovery until 2022—will drive many toward pirated versions of the show. The rights deal with Netflix for Star Trek covered 190 countries and territories—but Paramount+ will only be available in 45 countries by the end of 2022. “That leaves three-quarters of their market unable to watch without piracy,” says Leckie.
Analysts are also skeptical about the benefits to Star Trek fans from the shift to Paramount+. Andrew A. Rosen, a former Viacom digital media executive and founder of Parqor, a streaming service analyst firm, believes it’s highly unlikely Paramount+ can replicate the economics, scale, or sophistication of Netflix's marketing model around major franchises such as Star Trek. Neither ViacomCBS nor Netflix responded to requests for comment.
The bet Paramount and ViacomCBS are making is that fans of Star Trek love the brand enough to follow it to whichever streaming service ends up offering it—rather than whichever is the most convenient for them.
Just a few days before Star Trek: Discovery was set to begin its fourth season last week, ViacomCBS managed to do something impossible: basically unite Star Trek fans to agree on one thing. Unfortunately for them, that thing was agreeing that ViacomCBS sucked, for shockingly pulling Discovery in its entirety from international broadcast with no sign of its return. That’s about to change though.
Tremendous backlash from Star Trek’s international fanbase erupted last week for the surprise termination of the deal—which yanked all three of Discovery’s seasons from Netflix, which had distributed the show in 190 countries outside of the U.S. and Canada since it began in 2017. But it also meant that audiences expecting the season four premiere on November 18 were suddenly being told that they had to wait for the wider international release of Paramount+ in 2022. The streamer was planning to roll out to just a fraction of those countries, 45 in total, for a series that fans had, for almost four years, watched in tandem with U.S. and Canadian audiences. But now, ViacomCBS has decided that the backlash wasn’t worth making people wait to subscribe to yet another new streaming service.
“To all of the international Star Trek: Discovery fans: we hear you. We love this series too,” a new statement released on the Star Trek official website and the franchise’s official social media channels this morning. “We love it for the incredible cast, the hardworking crew, the imaginative storytelling, the groundbreaking, diverse characters who bring the show to life and what it represents to so many people around the world. Star Trek has always put its fans first. We want to do the same.”
However, that plan isn’t as simple as, say, the series continuing to release on Netflix. Starting with countries that have already begun rollout of Paramount+ outside the U.S.— Australia, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Finland, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Sweden, Uruguay, and Venezuela—the first two episodes of Discovery season four will release this Friday, November 26, a day after episode two releases in the U.S. and Canada.
Across Europe in Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, and the UK, episodes will be released at 9:00 p.m. local time through the free streaming platform Pluto TV—which is owned by ViacomCBS—“each Friday, Saturday, and Sunday,” with simulcast releases airing on the dedicated Star Trek channel for Pluto in Austria, Switzerland, and Germany. Several of those markets and more—including the UK, Germany, France, Russia, South Korea—will also be able to purchase new episodes of Discovery on select digital platforms, beginning on November 26.
It’s not an ideal situation, of course—especially now that for some fans the choice will be to either watch Discovery on a new service or cough up for individual episodes at a time. But it’s better than having to dodge spoilers for the next few months and even longer as Paramount+ continues its global rollout. “We too are super fans of Star Trek and incredibly proud of Discovery,” ViacomCBS’s statement concludes. “We promise to give this franchise and its loyal fans all the global love and visibility it deserves in our expanding universe on Paramount+.”
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