DC Universe, Warner Bros.’ video-on-demand streaming service, is reportedly in a spot of bother. According to Thomas Polito of The GWW, the service hasn’t been a profitable venture for the studio and he’d be “surprised” if its numbers were eventually boosted.
Now, Polito doesn’t seem to give a source for his information and WB aren’t releasing subscriber numbers to the public, but if this were true, it’d be a very bad omen for the in-development stable of shows including Metropolis, Doom Patrol and Swamp Thing. But what could be going wrong?
Well, though the flagship series Titans proved to be better than anticipated, it still arrived surrounded by deep fan skepticism and a godawful marketing campaign (which seems to be continuing with the cheap-looking Doom Patrol posters). But while the show did certainly earn some good publicity in the end, it doesn’t seem to have convinced fans to put their hard earned cash down on a monthly basis.
Perhaps exacerbating its problems is its limited availability, as DC Universe is currently only available to subscribers within the United States. This means that international fans (for example, uh, me) who wanted to watch Titans couldn’t do so on release. And, in what could be a portent of what’s to come for its future shows, the international licensing for Titans was acquired by Netflix. Given that the vast majority of US DC Universe subscribers will also be Netflix subscribers, it’s a bit of a kick in the teeth for them to have to pay twice for shows I only have to pay once for.
However, given how many high profile series are in development and production, I doubt they’ll be shutting the service down anytime soon (unless the numbers are apocalyptically dreadful). Instead, WB will continue to make money from licensing out these titles to international markets and letting other companies worry about distribution. Despite all that, unless they score a must-watch show sometime within the next year, the long term future doesn’t look particularly bright for DC Universe.