Star Trek The Original Series - Production - Syndication

Syndication

Surprisingly, one show no longer programmed by a network but syndicated to local television stations (Star Trek) sometimes appeared among the top five favorites in areas where the show is carried.

—"Students rate television", 1971

Although many of the third season's episodes were of poor quality, it gave Star Trek enough episodes for television syndication. Most shows require at least four seasons for syndication, because otherwise there are not enough episodes for daily stripping. Kaiser Broadcasting, however, had already purchased syndication rights for Star Trek during the first season for its stations in several large cities. The company arranged the unusual deal because it saw the show as effective counterprogramming against the Big Three networks' 6 pm evening news programs. Paramount began advertising the reruns in trade press in March 1969; as Kaiser's ratings were good, other stations, such as WPIX in New York City, also purchased the episodes for similar counterprogramming.

Through syndication, Star Trek found a larger audience than it had on NBC, becoming a cult classic. Airing the show in the late afternoon or early evening attracted many new viewers, often young. By 1970, Paramount's trade advertisements claimed that the show had significantly improved its stations' ratings, and the Los Angeles Times commented on Star Trek's ability to "acquire the most enviable ratings in the syndication field". By 1972, "the show that won't die" aired in more than 100 American cities and 60 other countries, and more than 3,000 fans attended the first Star Trek convention in New York City.

Since that dark day in 1969 when NBC brought the programming hammer down on Star Trek, there probably hasn't been a 24-hour period when the original program, one of the original episodes, wasn't being aired somewhere.

Chicago Tribune, 1987

Fans of the show became increasingly organized, gathering at conventions to trade merchandise, meet actors from the show, and watch screenings of old episodes. Such fans came to be known as "trekkies", who were noted (and often ridiculed) for their extreme devotion to the show and their encyclopedic knowledge of every episode. Unlike other syndicated reruns prices for Star Trek rose instead of falling over time, because fans enjoyed rewatching each episode many dozens of times. By 1987, Paramount made $1 million from each episode in syndication, and by 1994 the reruns still aired in 94% of the United States.

From September 1 to December 24, 1998, the Sci-Fi Channel broadcast a "Special Edition" of all The Original Series episodes in an expanded 90-minute format hosted by William Shatner. Approximately 3–4 minutes of each episode that had been edited out of the syndicated shows for additional commercial time were restored for the "Special Edition" broadcast. In addition to introductory and post-episode commentary by Shatner, the episodes included interviews with members of the regular production team and cast, writers, guest stars, and critics (titled as "Star Trek Insights"). The episodes were broadcast in the original broadcast sequence, followed by "The Cage" (in a 105-minute segment). (for details on each episode's original airdate, see List of Star Trek: The Original Series episodes). Leonard Nimoy hosted a second run from December 28, 1998 to March 24, 1999, but not all the episodes were broadcast because the show was abruptly cancelled before completion.

Read more about this topic:  Star Trek The Original Series, Production

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