DC Comics is Launching Its Own Streaming Service

The multimedia platform will feature movies, TV shows, and comic books.

Robin Titans

The multimedia platform will feature movies, TV shows, and comic books.

Streaming services are everywhere. Many of us subscribe to multiple platforms that offer their own variety of media. Netflix continues to absorb talent, while the likes of Hulu and Amazon are slowly beginning to catch up in terms of original content. And more niche services like FilmStruck have risen in popularity.

All of this can make the job of the consumer quite confusing. Which streaming service has the best stuff? Which is the most affordable? It can be difficult to decide where to put your money each month.

Major studios are also starting to notice the success of these platforms, with Disney launching their own next year. And now looking to get in on the action is DC Comics. Their streaming service, called DC Universe, will launch with a handful of new and returning shows, including the recently announced Swamp Thing series. Also, an animated Harley Quinn series, Doom Patrol, and the returning Young Justice: Outsiders.

And that’s still not all. There will also be a selection of other beloved DC projects, including Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, the Christopher Reeve Superman movies, and a handful of other fan-favorite shows and movies. Strangely absent from this announcement, though, are the recent DC Extended Universe films.

Additionally, DC Universe will double up as DC’s answer to Marvel Unlimited. That’s right, comic books will also be a major part of this platform. The service looks to provide a “hand-curated selection” of DC Comics titles, ranging from Superman’s first appearance in “Action Comics” to more recent material.

The possibility of watching a movie, then being directed to the comic it’s based on is certainly an enticing one. This something that will set the service apart from the competitors. In a world where streaming services are a dime a dozen, one of this scope has never really been attempted. But while DC Universe is a highly ambitious project with plenty going for it, one has to wonder whether it’ll have the lasting appeal DC is hoping for.

There’s no doubt that when DC Universe launches later this year, many hardcore fans will rush to sign up. But that’s not their only target demographic. As DC chief creative officer Jim Lee’s comments (via io9) suggest, the service also looks to appeal to new fans:

“It’s a welcoming place for everyone to immerse themselves in their own level of DC fandom, with the epic characters, stories, and experiences they have come to expect from DC.

We are investing in and creating original, high-quality shows including the new ‘Titans’ series, and curating the most beloved nostalgic content, while at the same time elevating the comic reading experience to new heights.”

Those with an interest in DC Comics that are looking for an entry point. And of course, the appeal is also clear for the casual fan looking around for something to check out. But whether all these people will be willing to put their money down is another story.

While many streaming services offer a wide range of content for a reasonable price, there’s only so many each person can afford. And while a lot of people may be interested in trying out DC Universe, it’s questionable whether many of them would continue to subscribe. Especially when more broadly appealing services like Netflix and Amazon are out there.

While Netflix has issues with the variety of its content, the sheer amount of it is what sells. Anybody with a passing interest in film and TV is likely to find something to watch there. And with their top originals being treated as events, many will subscribe just to avoid being left out of the conversation. Similarly, The Handmaid’s Tale becoming a must-watch show has done wonders for Hulu. But it’s unclear whether DC Universe will have that same appeal.

Of course, DC Universe is going for a more niche market. A better comparison might be Disney’s upcoming streaming service. That will be launching with Jon Favreau’s live-action Star Wars show. And while DC’s line up is all well and good, Star Wars it is not. Disney has the advantage of a considerable selection of properties to draw from for original content. Including properties that appeal to a wide variety of audiences and age ranges. DC Universe may have plenty to put on their platform, but the lack of variety may hurt them. After all, there are only so many superhero shows and movies that the casual fan will want to watch.

At a time when The CW already airs multiple DC shows, the appeal of several more is significantly lower than, say, the first live-action Star Wars show. DC also already has a pretty consistent output of animation, so it’s hard to imagine casual fans lining up for these. Doom Patrol does have a strong cult following, however. And the success of more off-kilter comic book adaptations like Preacher could be a good sign for that show. But with so many superhero series on TV, it’s hard to imagine audiences clamoring to see Titans.

One of the biggest selling points for the service is having the comics featured. Fans have been waiting for DC’s answer to Marvel Unlimited for some time. With the popularity of that service, plus all the other content available on DC Universe, it might seem like they can’t fail. But DC is aiming much higher here, with significantly more to lose. Many of the same people who subscribe to Marvel Unlimited are likely to use this service, but DC is going to need more than that to pull off their ambitious goals. A lot of money is being put into producing these series, and DC knows they’ll have to do big numbers to justify this whole project.

The uniqueness of DC Universe could easily end up working in its favor. Despite the number of streaming services out there, none of them have so much different media in one place. That alone could make this a considerable success. And if the quality of their original content is strong enough, DC may have a real winner on its hands. The potential setbacks may hold them back, but this type of bold move is at least worth paying attention to.

Sometimes knows what he's talking about.