With the DC Universe streaming service finally heading into public release, the time has arrived for comic book fans to get their hands on the all-new platform for DC Comics, Movies, TV, and original programming. We've had the chance to spend weeks with the service, and while the future of the platform or others like it may be unknown for now, DC is making sure to start things on the right foot.
A slick experience from start to finish, DC Universe will appear to many fans as an obvious service, design, and platform from the first time it opens. The question we're left with only comes after prolonged use: forget how intuitive DC Universe is now... what will it become in the weeks, months, even years ahead? And how will DC keep the content flowing?
But the time for that pontificating will come later. For now, interested consumers will want to know if DC Universe delivers the experience and content promised with its announcement. And the promises weren't slight ones, either: giving fans new ways to devour DC content in all forms: watching it, reading it, staying up to date on news, connecting with other fans, shopping for exclusive merchandise, and entering exclusive contents.
We're happy to report that in our time with the beta, DC has built the platform from the ground up to cater to those exact goals. When we got our first walkthrough of the platform during San Diego Comic-Con, the simplicity of the interface was the most striking feature. Designed like a DC-styled Netflix library of row after row, the divisions into Movies & TV shows, Comic Books, breaking news, and encyclopedic entries on trending heroes and teams made an explanation unnecessary. Seeing little more than the dimensions of the thumbnails communicated the format, and the spotlighting of message board/forum threads showed how low the barrier to community engagement could be.
A tap or two of the finger, and video was playing, comics were being downloaded, and news was being consumed. Or being streamed to a nearby television, with the most appealing feature being the ability to play comics in guided view, panel by panel, on the largest screen in your home. That feature is still under development for public release but DC's claim that such a mode could not only change the way fans re-read their favorite comics, but bring in new audiences holds water (as well as their suggestion of using the guided view as a new, geek-chic background entertainment for cocktail parties).
Since then, the movies and TV shows offered in DC Universe have been fully revealed, with the original series being creating specifically for it garnering much of the buzz. Titans leading the charge, Young Justice's third season following behind, with Doom Patrol, Swamp Thing, and Stargirl bolstering the live-action programming (and an animated Harley Quinn series, too). The question of which CW shows, or DCEU films make it to the service is one sure to be answered behind closed doors, as the cost-benefits of WB's other distribution and streaming deals are weighed.
That uncertainty doesn't sour the DC Universe experience itself - and we're judging it based on the actual delivery system, not the content being delivered through it. But it does demonstrate how much of the service's future is beyond the control of the team who created it. A team that deserves serious credit, as any programmer knows how much work it takes to make an interactive media hub seem effortless, and obvious. A team whose success can't, and shouldn't be measured by the ways DC now sells it to consumers. They have built an impressive restaurant in every DC fan's neighborhood, but the actual food being served is still a mystery - as are the portions.
How will the comics be curated, and what amount of access will a subscription entitle users to over time? How will the reception of the original TV shows impact subscriptions from series to series? Questions that DC will have to answer themselves as this new step forward leads to another, and another (and another, etc.) Thankfully, DC has kept the subscription costs low enough to win over those fans willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, charging $7.99 a month or $74.99 annually.
As a platform, DC Universe could be what fans have been asking for - and looks the part already. How they develop the service and content to match will be the real story to watch in the coming months. And, in the end, could determine its fate.
The DC Universe will launch on Batman Day, September 15th, 2018. For more details and to preorder your own subscription, head to the DC Universe official website.