Saturday, September 25, 2021

RCA, NBC, Star Trek and color

This 1967 magazine advertisement1 shows off some of the synergy that may have helped Star Trek survive for three seasons despite all that was seemingly working against it (including Gene Roddenberry's hardheadedness).

In a nutshell: RCA owned NBC. And NBC paid Desilu to produce Star Trek. The iconic science-fiction TV show was expensive to make, and often ran over on its production budget. Meanwhile, its Nielsen ratings were nothing to write home about. That's a recipe for getting your show canceled after one season. But, even with middling ratings and a bloated budget, Star Trek looked extraordinary on color televisions. And RCA was very much in the business of selling color televisions. So you can imagine that parent company RCA might have given NBC a nudge to renew its deal with Desilu after Star Trek's first season. There were other factors, of course. But it's nice to have also those bright gold, blue and red shirts popping off the TV screen when you're trying to convince someone to plop down $400 or $500 for a color TV in 1967. (That's between $3,000 and $4,000 today.)

Further reading:
Other Star Trek-related posts
1. I don't know what magazine, but there's an article about the politics of the Middle East on the other side. The page dimensions are 10½ inches by 13½ inches. So it could be Life.

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