Moonves: Netflix international sales pay for entire ‘Star Trek’ production cost

CBS is producing a reboot of the venerable Star Trek franchise.

CBS Corp. chief executive Les Moonves said the broad-reaching international sale of his company’s new Star Trek incarnation to Netflix paid for the show’s entire production budget. 

“Netflix just took it off the table for the rest of the world,” Moonves told media investors at an annual UBS conference Monday. “Basically, Star Trek is going on CBS All Access for free.” 

CBS is producing a reboot of the venerable Star Trek franchise, as well as a spinoff of popular linear TV series The Good Wife, with the intention of presenting those original series exclusively on its All Access SVOD platform. 

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“The back end is now becoming more important than the front end,” Moonves added, noting that  CBS couldn’t enable this model without back-end sales of the shows to buyers like Netflix. 

While large SVOD platforms like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu provide this back-end sales solution, they are also a big part of the problem, the CBS chief noted.

With aggressive mandates to building up their original-series portfolios, “Netflix and Hulu have driven production costs up to astronomical levels,” Moonves said. 

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However, in bidding for scarce talent to create its shows, CBS has an advantage—it can pay writers, producers and actors for 22 episodes instead of 14, which is the usual order for SVOD platforms.

“They have to work a little harder, but the rewards are bigger,” Moonves said.