SIDE BY SIDE Two graphs compare historical daily viewership for Star Trek–Horizon (top) and Prelude to Axanar. The large spike at the beginning of each is attributed to their premieres. Prelude‘s large spikes typically coincide with news events surrounding the controversial Axanar project.

Axanar Accuses Horizon of Buying Views

Horizon Producer Says Accusation ‘Reeks of Jealousy’

A few days before Star Trek–Horizon moved ahead of Prelude to Axanar in YouTube viewership on August 23, 2016, Axanar accused Horrizon‘s producers of having bought views of its trailer, and suggested the count for the film itself was inflated.

See also: The Art and Science of Buying YouTube Views

In a tweet August 20, 2016, Axanar’s Twitter account posted:

Axanar @axanar You would have to compare real stats not views that Horizon bought, like its 3m views for its trailer.

The tweet came a few days after AxaMonitor observed dozens of duplicate tweets from dummy accounts pointing people to Axanar’s short film, Prelude to Axanar, and after AxaMonitor published an article by editor Carlos Pedraza, “Why Horizon's Success Matters.”

PURCHASED VIEWS While Axanar accuses Horizon of buying 3.4 million views for its trailer, YouTube data since 2014 show only a burst of activity upon its release and just prior to the film’s February 2016 release. (Click to view full size.)

The article noted that Horizon was due to surpass Prelude‘s 2.5 million views, challenging Axanar producer Alec Peters’ characterization of Prelude as “the most successful Trek film ever”1) — “by any metric,” added director Robert Meyer Burnett.2)

Horizon Producer Responds

Asked by AxaMonitor if he denied buying YouTube views, Horizon producer Tommy Kraft replied, “Correct. Never bought any views.”3) Kraft said he was amused by the accusation, which he said stemmed from “pure jealousy”:

I find it amusing that a team with a multi-million dollar budget is accusing me (a person who made a whole feature film on $28,000) of buying views. I’m as surprised as anyone at the growing popularity of Horizon. I never expected this and I certainly never expected the views to keep shooting up less than six months after release. I’m continually amazed by the fact that people keep watching my movie and commenting on it, and the fact that Axanar has accused me of buying views on it and on my trailers reeks of nothing more than pure jealousy.4) [empahsis added]

Part of Prelude's Crew

Kraft was also a member of Prelude‘s crew, credited as the film’s digital compositor,5) who blended the live action and digital effects6) to create Prelude‘s lifelike, award-winning signature look. Despite Axanar’s touting its professional crew, Kraft was never paid for his efforts.

Provides No Evidence

See also: The Art and Science of Buying YouTube Views

It took Prelude two years to accumulate its views; Horizon took five months. Asked to provide evidence for its accusation against Horizon, the Axanar Twitter account instead wrote:

Axanar @startrekaxanar Simply compare stats - Views/likes/comments. You can’t have same # of views & 1/2 the comments & likes.7)

Misty Mills @mistymills Not really a good metric. Last stat I heard was only ~52% of YouTube users even use commenting.

When another Twitter user asked Axanar for more evidence:

Clenard@ClenardCmolder Hey @StarTrekAxanar Can you inform us as to how one goes about buying YouTube views? Enquiring minds want to know.
Axanar @startrekaxanar Just Google it or ask Tommy Kraft at Horizon. We have never bought YouTube views.
Clenard @ClenardCmolder I am also pretty sure that unless you can prove the alleged purchase, it qualifies as slander or libel.8)

Axanar didn’t tweet further on the topic of evidence at the time this article was posted.9)

Axanar Director: ‘Nobody Cares’

For his part, Burnett refused to identify which metrics justified his claim of most successful: “Nobody cares how many views Prelude to Axanar has on YouTube … except you,” Burnett told AxaMonitor.10)

NIPPING AT THE HEELS of Prelude to Axanar‘s astonishing viewership is upstart fan film Star Trek–Horizon, which eventually surpassed Prelude‘s views on August 23. (Click to view full size)
@AxaMonitor: “Seriously though, I’m interested in the metrics you used in claiming Prelude to Axanar is the most successful fan film.”
@BurnettRM: I leave that up to you.
@AxaMonitor: So. Just boast, and then … “We do not discuss it with outsiders…”?
@BurnettRM: C’mon now…you’re the expert…again…I ask..what do YOU think?

When asked why he made the boast if he wasn’t going to substantiate it, Burnett tweeted, “So people who might not watch the film will tune in and see for themselves. That’s showmanship. That’s Hollywood.”12) [emphasis added]


Asked on Twitter if he believed Axanar’s accusation against Horizon,13) Burnett remained silent.


Just before 2 pm PDT, August 23, Star Trek–Horizon overtook Prelude to Axanar. Horizon had logged 2,565,757 views, compared to Prelude at 2,564,967. Both Star Trek–Horizon and Prelude to Axanar are available on YouTube.

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