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How far can shows boldly go in the streaming age?

Sabri Ben-Achour Sep 8, 2020
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Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner as Mr. Spock and Capt. Kirk from "Star Trek." Wikimedia Commons

How far can shows boldly go in the streaming age?

Sabri Ben-Achour Sep 8, 2020
Heard on:
Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner as Mr. Spock and Capt. Kirk from "Star Trek." Wikimedia Commons
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Today is the 54th anniversary of the premier of the original “Star Trek” TV show, back in 1966. It’s been rebooted several times, so it’s not the longest continuously running series in the U.S., but it is certainly a very long-running franchise.

Some shows have much longer runs of episodes than “Star Trek”: “The Simpsons” is entering its 32nd season. “Guiding Light” was on for 72 years before being canceled in 2009. Can the Netflix era produce shows that last like these?

“I wonder whether we can in a time of streaming and binging on shows,” said Jeff Jarvis, a professor at CUNY’s Newmark School of Journalism. “Even if you look at the great shows on premium cable – ‘Sopranos’ in the day, now ‘Succession’, they have fairly short runs.” 

Daniel Herbert, associate professor of film, TV and media at the University of Michigan said in the old world, the point of a long running show was to get it syndicated, so royalties could flow in.

“Whereas in a streaming world, having a long-running show is more about maintaining brand identity and subscribers.”

So, long running shows should still be possible. At a minimum, the proliferation of streaming platforms means old shows have new homes, and old franchises, new places to reboot. The latest iteration of “Star Trek,” for example, is on CBS All Access.

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