Idiot Box: Will Dc Universe Be First To Fail?

Will Dc Universe Be First To Fail?

Devin D. O'Leary
4 min read
Harley Quinn
Share ::
Yeah, I know. It seems like every week this column is reporting on yet another over-the-top internet streaming service delivering movies and TV direct to consumers. Given the nonstop flood of services coming from every corporation in the world of media, it’s somewhat inevitable that some of them will fail. With many of these services yet to even debut (HBO Max, Peacock, Quibi), we may have already reached that make-or-break point. And right now, the TV dead pool is laying odds on DC Universe being the first major player to expire.

DC Universe was launched in 2018 under a wave of hype designed to dethrone Marvel Comics’ reign as King of Pop Culture Media, a title ensured by the wildly successful Marvel Cinematic Universe. Two years later and DC Universe has five whole TV series you can watch for the cost of a mere $7.99 per month. There’s the live-action “Titans” and “Doom Patrol” and the animated “Harley Quinn” and “Young Justice: Outsiders.” There’s also the live-action “Swamp Thing”—but that got canceled after only a single episode thanks to some screwy behind-the-scenes problems. “Titans” is evidently very popular and Season 1 of “Harley Quinn” has been fun—but that doesn’t seem like enough to justify the service’s monthly subscription price.

Here’s the real problem, though. DC Comics (and, by extension, DC Universe) is owned by WarnerMedia. Warner Media also owns HBO, CNN, TBS, TNT, truTV, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, TCM, Warner Bros., New Line, Crunchy Roll, Looney Tunes and The CW. (To add to the business industry mumbo-jumbo, WarnerMedia was “acquired” by corporate overlord AT&T in 2018.) For years the venerable Warner Bros. studio has been trying to launch its own digital streaming services. Now AT&T’s corporate synergy plan is to cross-pollinate Warner Bros. and HBO to create HBO Max, which is expected to start sometime in Spring 2020.

Among the prospective shows lined up for HBO Max? A whole bunch of expensive DC Comics-based stuff, including a live-action Green Lantern series. Season 2 of “Doom Patrol” is expected to air on both DC Universe and HBO Max. Meanwhile, DC Direct’s upcoming, teen-oriented series “Stargirl” is slated to premiere on DC Universe and The CW. The CW is already home to popular “Arrowverse” shows like “Arrow,” “Supergirl,” “The Flash” “Legends of Tomorrow,” “Batwoman” and “Black Lightning.” That’s one more DC-based show than DC Universe has—and they’re available for free on broadcast TV. All those splashy DC Extended Universe films (
Batman v. Superman, Justice League, Suicide Squad, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Joker, Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey)? They’re all going straight to HBO Max without so much as a glance in DC Universe’s direction.

So what exclusive content does that leave DC Universe with? Not much of anything, from the looks of it. In October of last year, DC Universe issued a press release, assuring viewers that the advent of HBO Max was NBD. “Our WarnerMedia partners made some exciting news today, and we’re psyched!” the release crowed. “We also want to assure you that DC Universe is going strong with an exciting year of super-fan service coming through this year and next.” Among the things DC Universe touted: Season 2 of “Doom Patrol,” a reality show in which viewers pitch ideas for DC Universe shows and “other exciting stuff we just can’t talk about yet.” For a reassuring statement, that’s … not very reassuring.

As if all that didn’t sound like a resounding nail in the coffin of DC Direct: Last week, rumors started circulating that WarnerMedia was so frustrated with DC Comics that they booted co-publisher Dan DiDio and were allegedly looking to license all the publishing rights to its characters to crosstown rival Marvel. DC’s Chief Creative Officer Jim Lee quickly poured water on those Marvel takeover rumors. Does that mean no one at Warner ever considered the idea? Trust me: Somebody kicked it around the corporate boardroom for an afternoon. And it’s a pretty good indication of what corporate America thinks of this current car wreck over at WarnerMedia. DC Universe may not be dead, but its future looks awfully bleak.
1 2 3 272