With Star Trek: Picard and Star Trek: Discovery season 3 both set to premiere in 2020, the franchise will have multiple shows running simultaneously for the first time in over 20 years. Debuting in 2017, Star Trek: Discovery brought the iconic science fiction property firmly into the modern era, and was the first televised Star Trek adventure since Enterprise concluded in 2005. Although it hasn't proved unanimously popular with the Star Trek faithful, Discovery has been critically praised and is easily the biggest series on CBS All Access heading into its third season.
As part of CBS' continued expansion of the Star Trek franchise, 2020 will also see the return of Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard in his own solo series, airing on All Access and internationally via Amazon Prime, similar to Discovery which is instead released on Netflix outside of the United States. Star Trek: Picard will see its titular character on a brand new adventure in his later years, but will also revel a little in the element of nostalgia that comes with Stewart's return, reuniting him with a range of other familiar faces from Star Trek: The Next Generation and beyond.
Star Trek: Picard will begin on January 23rd and will run for 10 episodes, likely taking it to the end of March. Season 3 of Star Trek: Discovery is currently confirmed for sometime in 2020 but, given the gaps between previous seasons, will likely begin shortly after Picard finishes. This marks a rare occasion where two separate Star Trek series run simultaneously. There have been mini-series, such as the Short Trek episodes that run in conjunction with Star Trek: Discovery, but instances of two major shows running in conjunction to each other are rare within the franchise.
In fact, the last time this happened was in 1995 with Star Trek: Voyager and Deep Space Nine. When Voyager premiered in January 1995, DS9 was in the middle of its third season. Both shows would run simultaneously for 4 years, with DS9 concluding in 1999, and Voyager two years later in 2001. Prior to this, there was a brief overlap between the final two seasons of The Next Generation and the start of DS9, though this was perhaps more a case of one show winding down and another building up.
Generally speaking, however, Star Trek TV shows tend to exist in singularity, with significant gaps between The Original Series, The Animated Series and The Next Generation. There was a period of a few months between Voyager and Enterprise, and then another sizable break before Star Trek: Discovery hit screens.
Although Star Trek may have balanced multiple shows before, the dynamic between Discovery and Picard is still fairly new ground. In the 1990s, there was perhaps a sense that Paramount considered Voyager its flagship Star Trek product, and Deep Space Nine as more of a spinoff, even if viewership and fan opinion failed to support this viewpoint. In the present day, it's impossible to discern which out of Discovery and Picard would take precedence. Try telling Patrick Stewart he's starring in a "spinoff." Additionally, there are more Star Trek shows on the way, including a Nickelodeon animation, a cartoon comedy and a Section 31 series. While these projects remain in production for now, it seems very likely that there will be considerable overlap, and up to 4 or 5 Star Trek TV shows could ultimately wind up running at the same time - definitely a first for the franchise.
It remains to be seen whether there is enough of an appetite for Star Trek in 2019 to justify multiple shows. Back in the late 1990s, both Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager performed respectably, but they suffered a considerable mark down in viewership compared to the mighty ratings of The Next Generation. Encouragingly, the emergence of Deep Space Nine didn't draw viewers away from The Next Generation, which suggests that if Star Trek: Discovery's figures take a dive in season 3, Jean-Luc Picard won't necessarily have to shoulder the blame.
Star Trek: Picard premieres January 23rd on CBS All Access and Amazon Prime internationally.
Star Trek: Discovery season 3 is currently without a release out.