DC’s move to launch its own streaming service, DC Universe, is both completely logical and rather surprising at the same time. Many corporations are scrambling to catch up with Netflix and other early-out-of-the-gate services, seeking to reap the huge rewards of producing original content and making its older material available online for fees. Furthermore, there’s money to be made from selling its original content later on to other media outfits and on home video. CBS jumped on board with its own effort, CBS All Access, last year, and Disney is reportedly developing its own streaming service. Whether these newer efforts will have staying power remains to be seen.
So when viewed in that context, it’s understandable that DC would embark upon a similar venture. It has a huge library of properties adapted for TV and movies upon which it can draw, and as Hollywood has known for years, its vast array of characters offers significant potential for new programming. Furthermore, DC knows there’s an online audience for its comics, and offering that reading experience as part of DC Universe is a logical extension of the digital content effort.
What’s surprising is that it’s DC, not its parent company Time Warner, that’s taking on such a project. It’s quiet ambitious for a comparatively small branch of the media giant to undertake such an endeavor.
But here’s what’s even more surprising about DC Universe: it doesn’t want my money.
As a lifelong consumer of comics-related content, both new and old, DC Universe is a perfect niche service for me. But I live in Canada, and when I set out to sign up for the service in advance of its launch, I was met with the following message:
This is absolutely befuddling to me. Other online services are available internationally. With Netflix, the content available differs between the U.S. and Canada, for example, but when it comes to its original content, it’s not an issue.
DC has hired a PR firm to handle media inquiries about the DCU service, and I sent a message days ago to that firm’s dedicated email address for DCU questions about timelines for availability of the service beyond American borders. No response.
I fully expect I’ll get to view new DCU shows here in Canada. Hulu’s Castle Rock and CBS All Access’s Star Trek Discovery both air on Space in Canada (our version of Sy Fy), and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see such shows as Titans, Swamp Thing, Doom Patrol or the animated Harley Quinn turn up on such speciality channels on my satellite package.
Nevertheless, it seems nonsensical to me that DC wouldn’t want me and other non-Americans to pay it directly for that content. If it felt selling the shows to a middle man were more profitable, it wouldn’t be launching this service in the first place.