Fans of Star Trek: Prodigy and other newly cancelled shows may have good reason to hope for a return.
No one said streaming is forever, shows can move around and be removed from channels. We learned that with the first global streamers like Netflix and Prime. Shows would come and go depending on the licensing deal. Now that happens even to original shows, if the executives at the channel feel the show is under-performing.
Some library content is disappearing as studios seek to cut costs, and they’re doing it by claiming the canceled shows as losses on their tax returns. This isn’t even a precedent — even as Warner Bros. Discovery pulled content as part of planned tax write-offs tied to its merger, consumers seemed to accept the move as the cost of doing business. However, as Disney yanked dozens of shows and films from Disney+ and Hulu, including Willow, The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers and The Mysterious Benedict Society, subscribers were suddenly faced with a new reality, and Now Paramount+ is following suit.
For a decade many services enjoyed subscriber growth, aided by pandemic lockdowns and a surge of fresh original content. Now Wall Street want to see streaming be profitable. The people who loaned the studios billions to make new content for the new channels, now want a return on investment. Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) was the first one to figure this out, in a way that makes sense to the stockholders, but is very confusing to the consumer. Here’s what happened:
WBD took a big tax deduction. Cancelling a show lets them write off the cost of a series, giving them a tax savings of millions, and that makes their bottom line look better. Yes, they may annoy some subscribers, but a show that isn’t watched a lot probably isn’t the only reason someone gets that channel. They have hits too.
In the case of Prodigy, Paramount has several other new Star Trek shows that are popular, like Strange New Worlds and Discovery. So the executives at Paramount Global (the parent company) and Paramount+ removed a total of 4 shows, including one Trek series.
“The Paramount+ series Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies, Star Trek: Prodigy, Queen of the Universe and The Game have completed their runs on Paramount+ and will not be returning to the service,” a Paramount+ spokesperson said in a statement. “We want to extend our thanks to our tremendously talented cast and crew and our producing partners for their passionate work and dedication on these programs, and we wish them all the best on their future endeavors.”
This was announced at the same time as Paramount+’s merger with Showtime, adding TV and movies.
You may remember that Star Trek: Prodigy was renewed for season two in November 2021 and was a key push by franchise producer Alex Kurtzman to introduce the property to a younger generation. The series will complete postproduction on season two, and CBS Studios will shop both seasons to a new buyer, perhaps even more than one.
As Star Trek fans, we can take some comfort in what happened at Warner Brothers Digital, when HBO shows were removed from the service, then appeared on new streaming sites within weeks. Westworld, for example, was everywhere from Apple+ to Tubi after leaving HBO (owned by WBD).
There may be a lesson here, that streaming is a convenient way to view movies and TV, yet it’s not a substitute for owning high quality physical media that will last for decades. You never know when one of your favorites will just vanish, perhaps never to return.
David Raiklen wrote, directed and scored his first film at age 9. He began studying keyboard and composing at age 5. He attended, then taught at UCLA, USC and CalArts. Among his teachers are John Williams and Mel Powel.
He has worked for Fox, Disney and Sprint. David has received numerous awards for his work, including the 2004 American Music Center Award. Dr. Raiklen has composed music and sound design for theater (Death and the Maiden), dance (Russian Ballet), television (Sing Me a Story), cell phone (Spacey Movie), museums (Museum of Tolerance), concert (Violin Sonata ), and film (Appalachian Trail).
His compositions have been performed at the Hollywood Bowl and the first Disney Hall. David Raiken is also host of a successful radio program, Classical Fan Club.