The Star Trek Discovery Season 4 Debacle

Star Trek Discovery is one of my guilty pleasures; it’s predictable, cheesy and sometimes downright cringe, but I like it.

There. I said it. I like it.

I was looking forward to the new season 4 and have been waiting for the best part of a year for it to air in the UK on Netflix, as it has done previously. It was due to premiere on Friday 19th November, but somebody at Paramount decided to pull it from Netflix a few days before and only show it in the few countries that have the Paramount+ streaming service. Everyone else had to wait until Paramount+ launched globally in 2022.

The fans went ape shit, and justifiably so. This resulted in Paramount doing a climbdown, and in the UK they made it available on something called Pluto TV the week after, a free streaming service. I’d never heard of the bloody thing, so I installed the Pluto app on my set top box in anticipation. What I came to realise is that the streaming on Pluto is free, but it is scheduled. On 26th November, if I wanted to watch season 4, I was forced to watch the first two episodes back to back between 9pm and 11pm. SCHEDULED!?

I’ve not watched scheduled TV streamed or terrestrial broadcast for years, and I can tell you, it was a bloody shock to my system. I was really not geared up for it. As soon as the first episode kicked off, my phone lit up like a Christmas tree. Everyone wanted to get in touch, and I had no pause facility on Pluto.

Eventually the phone was impossible to ignore and I completely lost my place in the show that I had eagerly anticipated. I won’t even start whining about the adverts – another thing that I wasn’t ready for.

There’s a lot of issues here, and I am acutely aware of mine; I should have thought ahead and silenced my phone and kept it out of sight. I failed to plan for the inevitable interruptions. I think this largely because I’ve allowed myself to become so conditioned into being able to have my media in whatever format completely on demand, as and when suits me. I get an interruption? I pause, attend to whatever has caught my attention, then go back to whatever it is that I am watching. I’ve realised that as a consequence of my digital life, I depend upon immediacy, and I have the attention span of a gnat. Also, that I need to stop responding to my phone the second that it chirps.

The really glaring issue here is Paramount’s greed. It’s pretty obvious why they have done what they have done, and it has backfired royally from a PR perspective. I would imagine a lot of people would have torrented the episodes, something that used to be huge years ago prior to the emergence of the streaming services.

For me? I’m voting with my feet, I’ll now part company with Discovery, after all, there’s plenty of fantastic stuff to watch, and I could really do without another streaming service.

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