According to a report from Thomas Polito of Geeks WorldWide, the a la carte DC streaming service is not the profitable venture that Warner executives had been hoping for. Polito also commented that it would be a “surprise” if the number of subscribers were to increase at this point. This statement has been supported by KC Walsh of Geeks WorldWide, who reported that the service has only been able to gain 700,000 subscribers since its launch on September 15th of last year. Neither were able to provide a source for their claims and it is not likely that Warner Bros. will release internal data about subscribers.
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However, if the speculations are true then things may not bode well for the future of the streaming service or any of the original shows that are being developed for it like Swamp Thing, Stargirl, and Harley Quinn. The factors that contributed to that middling 700,000 are varying and will certainly be taken into consideration by Warner Bros. executives when they deliberate on the future of the DC Universe as they also prepare to launch a Warner Bros. streaming service alongside it.
While the service’s inaugural original show Titans was well-received by critics and DC fans, it was not always that way. The series premiered on the streaming service amid scrutiny and disapproval from fans after Warner Bros. released a divisive trailer for it at San Diego Comic Con a few months prior that was followed by a presumably low-budget marketing campaign. That low-budget is seemingly carrying over to Doom Patrol, another DC Universe original series. With this in mind it is obvious that fans were mixed on the appearance of the service and did not feel inclined to pay a monthly $8 fee for something that may not have a high production value like the Marvel Netflix shows. Ironically, Titans had a $20 million production budget, which means that it was technically a loss alongside that 700,000.
The biggest fault of the service as many critics of it have pointed out is its accessibility and availability. Currently, the DC Universe is only available in the United States and on a few platforms such as the Roku and Amazon Fire but not on Playstation or Xbox. This has been frustrating to DC fans in the international market who could not enjoy Titans on release or the curated digital library of comics and classic movies and shows that the service offers. The only way the international market is going to get to watch Titans is through Netflix, who recently acquired the international license which has caused uncertainty about if Warner Bros. is still planning to launch the service internationally. It was last reported that a beta for a Canadian version of the service was in development, but there hasn’t been any word on if that is still happening since then.
Another criticism of the service has been the comic book library, which DC fan have been vocal about. The service was set to reportedly have a massive curated list of comic book runs from various eras of the company, but not all of them are complete. There has also been omissions of newer runs which a lot of fans had been hoping for given that there are a few single issues of the current Rebirth era featured within the library. However, the DC Universe management team was more receptive to that criticism and since then have slowly been increasing the volume of comics that are available on the service, but it may be too late as new competition is emerging. Competitor Comixology recently announced that they will be adding dozens of DC titles, new and old to their Comixology Unlimited service. This announcement certainly will arouse more skepticism for subscribers and potential subscribers who may start to question what they are paying for.
What all of this could mean for the DC Universe and how executives may handle it is uncertain. The best case scenario is that the DC Universe while still in its infancy could improve but operate on a loss for its first year like the WWE Network did when it launched. The worst case scenario is that the service will be discontinued or folded into the planned Warner Bros. streaming service.
What do you think of this news? Are you subscribed to DC Universe? Let us know in the comments below!