The DC Universe digital streaming platform is a huge success following the premiere of Doom Patrol.
When DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. launched the digital streaming platform five months ago, it was billed as the “ultimate membership” for for fans, where they could watch classic DC films, shows, and comics as well as original content for $7.99 a month.
This gave the service a niche focus that set it apart from major competitors like Hulu and Netflix, which has over 140 million subscribers internationally and a wider range of content available to consumers. The launch of DC Universe came on the heels of other niche streaming services such as DramaFever and FilmStruck failing to capture long-term consumer interest.
Analysts have pointed out that DC Universe has an adequate amount of momentum to stay afloat in a highly competitive market, but are not certain as to if it can maintain it. Like Netflix, it will have to constantly expand itself and strive to make improvements wherever it is weakest.
The service’s present success has largely been attributed to its original series. A Warner Bros. spokesperson told BusinessInsider that free trial sign-ups have seen increases that coincide with the premieres of their original shows. DC Universe’s first two original shows, Young Justice Outsiders and Titans have become one of the seven weekly most in-demand streaming shows, according to Parrot Analytics.
Both Titans and Young Justice Outsiders have been well-received by both fans and critics alike so the original shows are off to a positive start. Titans received an 84% rating on Rotten Tomatoes while Young Justice Outsiders has a 91%. The third DC Universe Original, Doom Patrol, which just premiered has a 93% with just one episode out.
While Netflix has encouraged a binging culture by releasing entire seasons of its shows, DC Universe has broken from that model. Instead, episodes are dropped on a weekly basis akin to regular cable television. Doom Patrol showrunner Jeremy Carver praised the roll-out plan by saying that it helps sustain buzz with few originals premiering.
“I love to binge as much as the next person, but there is something exciting about rolling it out,” he said. “All of these episodes are unique from one another. And, I think, particularly when you pair that with launching a new service, the hope is that you’re building momentum with each and every episode and folks are talking about it, and other folks want to be part of that.”
By January 30th, the service’s mobile app had passed the 1 million mark on both Google Play and the Apple App Store with revenue being up by 53% compared to December, according to statistics provided SensorTower, a mobile marketing insights company. These statistics exclude downloads on other platforms such as Roku and Fire TV.
Sensor Tower’s Alex Malafeev told Business Insider that the mobile app’s revenue growth “paints a positive picture for the service when looked at in comparison to other niche subscription offerings on mobile which have grown more modestly in their first several months of availability.”
Ahead of the service’s launch, DC Chief Creative Officer Jim Lee pointed out that it is not in competition with Netflix. Lee said that it was “not an attempt to be everything to everyone,” but rather “an attempt to be the most immersive experience for fans of the DC characters and stories.”
Malafeev added that if DC Universe wants to stay afloat in this current market then it is going to have to continuously develop and deliver original content that “resonates as strongly with its target audience.”
In the coming months, three more original shows are set to premiere on the service with Aquaman director James Wan’s Swamp Thing, the animated Harley Quinn, and Geoff Johns’ Stargirl. The service has also recently made some major upgrades to its comic library by adding thousands of new comics with classic stories such as Batman: No Man’s Land and Green Lantern: Rebirth being some of the most notable additions. According to a spokesperson, subscribers have been able to read over 7 million since its launch in September. The DC Animated Original film Reign of The Supermen was available on the service the same day as its Blu-Ray release. Future DC Animated Original films will follow a similar schedule with Justice League vs. Fatal Five being next.
However, it can’t just rely on DC die-hards to keep it afloat, according to senior CSG engineer Brice Clinton. Clinton stated that if DC Universe wants to thrive then it is going to need to do something that will appeal to more casual audiences. He said the service should take advantage of the success of recent cinematic outings such as Aquaman and Wonder Woman and make them exclusives.
It doesn’t need Netflix numbers,” Clinton added. “Think about it like sports. With football, there’s always the rabid fan. But the NFL is really trying to attract the casual fan because the hardcore fan is always going to be there anyway. Does it need to have mass appeal? No. But to attract the casual fan, I think that’s important for them. It’s always going to have that ingrained base, but can it get one other set of people?”
“I always hope that we can bring more people in with a story that’s even more universal than just superheroes,” “Doom Patrol’s” Carver said about bringing in casual viewers. “But I say that with a certain amount of naivety because I think superhero stories are relatively universal.”
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