‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Exec Producer Talks About Going SVOD, the Launch of the Second Season and More ‘Trek’

LAS VEGAS — “Terrifying” — that’s how Alex Kurtzman, executive producer of “Star Trek: Discovery” described launching on the SVOD platform CBS All Access.

Kurtzman spoke Jan. 9 during the Variety Entertainment Summit at CES in Las Vegas.

“There’s always concern that the fans will revolt,” he said. And “Star Trek” fans are notoriously engaged.

“What was really clear was if we’re going to ask people to pay $10 a month we’re going to have to deliver an experience that they can’t get on traditional television,” Kurtzman said.

The first season famously sported some Klingon nudity and the first F-bomb in the series.

“It’s all tone,” he said, and being careful to not be “disrespectful of ‘Trek.’” The F-bomb, for instance, was delivered in reference to a scientific concern, he said.

“I think that the line now between movies and television is essentially over,” he said, noting “Discovery” is basically a long movie.

“The thing I love about TV is you can spend time getting into the details of the characters lives,” he said.

To that end, in the second season, the series will explore the relationship between Spock and his adoptive sister. It will be about “family [including the work family] working together to solve this mystery,” he said.

Taking into account some of the fan concerns about the dark theme of the first season, the second will include more humor, he said.

It also will address a burning question for some fans about the first season: Why do the Klingons have no hair?

Season two reveals that “in a time of war, Klingons shave all their body hair,” he said.

More “Trek” series are in the works, including an animated show from “Rick and Morty” exec producer Mike McMahan about the lower deck employees and a series with Patrick Stewart returning as Captain Jean-Luc Picard. It took some convincing, but Stewart eventually agreed to revisit the character.

“Sometimes you meet your heroes and they are as wonderful as you want them to be,” Kurtzman said of Stewart.

Viacom CEO Bob Bakish Focusing on Content in Fragmented Market

LAS VEGAS — For Viacom, content truly is king, according to CEO Bob Bakish, who is forging a “culture of content” at the company.

“I continue to believe there’s a lot of value in assets that we already own,” he said Jan. 9 during the Variety Entertainment Summit at the CES show in Las Vegas.

While the Walt Disney Co., with its Fox merger and pending SVOD service, and WarnerMedia, through the AT&T merger and its own pending streaming service, are leveraging consolidation for greater distribution clout in the fragmented market, big deals aren’t necessarily the best path, he said.

“Vertical integration is very much in vogue,” but historically it “doesn’t tend to work,” Bakish said.

“Bigger is not always better,” he said.

In fact, rather than bulking up to compete with online services, he pointed out Viacom produces shows for Netflix, Amazon and Facebook. For instance, the show “Jack Ryan” is on Amazon. The company launched Viacom Digital Studios to produce social media friendly content for outlets such as Facebook.

“Viacom doesn’t really require a transformational deal,” he said. Instead, the company is doing what he calls “accelerant deals,” such as recent pacts to acquire VidCon, which celebrates online video creators, and Awesomeness TV, which produced To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before released on Netflix.

The goal is “unlocking opportunity through truly multi-platform distribution,” whether it be AVOD, SVOD, legacy platforms or other models, he said.

“Relative to some of our peers, we’re further along in this transition,” he said.

One of the new technologies he is enthused about is the coming 5G mobile delivery standard.

“Mobile distribution is what will turn this [content monetization] decline on its head,” Bakish said.

5G and the move to 10G for traditional TV distribution will both expand the pipelines for content, he noted.

He’s also intrigued by self-driving cars, which will open up more free time for consumers to view entertainment.

Content owners cannot “crawl into the ivory tower” and hope the future will go away, he said.

“You can look at this transformation as glass have full or half empty. I’m half full,” he said.

CES 2019: NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to Discuss Expanded Partnership

For better or worse, Twitter engages people through social media.

Take the Christmas Day NBA matchup between the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers, which was infamously hyped on Twitter after the Warriors featured an illustration of forward Draymond Green attempting to spread holiday cheer.

Twitter followers thought the image made Green look fat. And the snarking followed.

“Did KD draw this?” tweeted one follower in reference to the Warriors’ forward Kevin Durant.

While public putdowns on Twitter are nothing new, the NBA and Twitter hope the platform can enhance the consumer experience – in addition to their bottom lines.

The Consumer Technology Association Dec. 27 announced that Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver are scheduled to have a conversation with ESPN anchor Rachel Nichols at next month’s Consumer Electronics Show Jan. 8-11, 2019in Las Vegas.

The session, “#NBATwitter: A Conversation with Adam Silver and Jack Dorsey,” will discuss the NBA’s approach to sports technology with a spotlight on #NBATwitter.

Moderated by Nichols, Dorsey and Silver will speak from the CES Sports Zone Stage at 1:30 PM, on Jan. 9 at ARIA, Level 3, Primrose Ballroom 2-3.

“The partnership between Twitter and the NBA illustrates the ever-growing symbiotic relationship between sports and technology,” Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, CTA, said in a statement.

CES 2018 saw every sports league represented, including Major League Soccer, MLB, NASCAR, NBA, NCAA, NFL, NHL, U.S. Olympic Committee and WWE. Professional athletes, such as Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley, Joe Montana, Landon Donovan, Bryce Harper and Michael Phelps made appearances and contributed to the narrative surrounding sports technology innovation.

CES 2019 will be no different.

Returning to the annual confab for 2019, the CES Sports Zone will feature the latest tech innovation impacting all facets of sports – from athletic performance to fan engagement and the business of sports on and off the field.

In addition to exhibits, the Sports Zone conference program will feature athletes and industry experts as they explore the future of sports technology, including the quantified athlete, immersive fan experience, smart venues and eSports. Another aspect is the CES Sports Zone Lounge hosted by Sports Innovation Lab and sponsored by the NFL Players Association.

CES attendees will be able to experience eSports firsthand via The Gamespot eSports truck located in the CES Sports Zone of Tech West (#45822). Featuring 10 gaming kiosks for both professional gamers and attendees to showcase their skills in Mario Kart and the newly released Super Smash Brothers, the truck will host a series of competitions and invite all to take part in periods of open play.

Some 4,500 exhibitors will unveil technology across every major industry at CES 2019, across a show floor spanning 2.75 million net square feet.

Warriors’ Stephen Curry’s soft shot in losing effort against the Los Angeles Lakers on Christmas Day.

AT&T’s John Donovan to Deliver Keynote on 5G Opportunities at CES

AT&T Communications CEO John Donovan will lead a keynote session titled “New Frontiers in Mobile” at CES 2019, the Consumer Technology Association announced.

Donovan will join MediaLink Chairman and CEO Michael Kassan to discuss opportunities for 5G, the next generation technology for mobile.

Owned and produced by CTA, CES 2019 takes place Jan. 8-11 in Las Vegas. The keynote will begin at 2 p.m. Jan. 9 at the Park Theater, MGM Park.

Presented by MediaLink, the keynote will explore how 5G will open up opportunities for robotic manufacturing, AR/VR and mixed reality, sporting experiences and public safety, among other industries. After Donovan’s talk, a panel of industry executives will discuss how global companies are developing marketing strategies to best engage consumers in this mobile, data-driven world. Confirmed keynote panelists include National Geographic CMO Jill Cress, Deloitte Digital CMO Alicia Hatch, Magic Leap CPO Omar Khan, Adobe CMO Ann Lewnes, The Stagwell Group president and managing partner Mark Penn, and Ascential Events president and Cannes Lions chairman Phil Thomas.

“AT&T is a leader in the next-generation of connected mobility that will impact every aspect of our lives, and 5G is the platform that will enable that transformation,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, CTA, in a statement. “We are excited to have John Donovan and Michael Kassan lead this powerful CES keynote that will delve into the new world of 5G innovation and the next wave of connectivity.”

Donovan is responsible for the bulk of AT&T’s global telecommunications and U.S. video services businesses, including its Business, Mobility and Entertainment, and Technology & Operations groups, according to a CTA press release. Previously, Donovan served as chief strategy officer and group president, AT&T Technology and Operations, where he led strategic planning for the company overall.

Kassan founded MediaLink in 2003, a strategic advisory firm serving companies at the intersection of media, marketing, advertising, technology, entertainment and finance.