[Editor’s Note: The following article was written at a breakneck pace in order to get the point across. Please forgive any rambling. We don’t pay him for the quality, just the word count. Carry on!]
HBO Max is here baby! Granted, all the things people are really excited for are definitely not here yet, but that comes with patience. You’ll get your Friends, Gossip Girl, Boondocks and of course Zack Snyder’s Justice League. Eventually. Probably all by first quarter next year. While we wait for Greg Berlanti’s Green Lantern to kick into pre-production, can we address the elephant in the room? The DC Universe streaming service is making HBO looks BAD. We gotta kill it. Kill it now.
When WarnerMedia announced that they were making a streaming service to compete with Netflix way back in 2018, I cheered. And it took me sometime before I thought, this sh*t is weird. And so they launched DCU in September 2018, with this as its intended goal:
… it is designed as an immersive experience with fan interaction and will encompass comics as well as TV series.
So in September the DCU is live. The very next month, the company announces another streaming service, HBO Max. That is antithesis of synergy. Sure, HBO Max has no plans to create a community or give you free comics. That stuff can still exist. You can kill off this platform and still reap the benefits of the “fan-favorite” shows. Bring over Titans, have an exclusive streaming deal with CW’s newest (short term) pickup Swamp Thing, bring over Young Justice which desperately needs a bigger audience. Hell, I’d argue that you’d snatch up YJ and convince the people behind all the great direct to video DC Universe animated movies that the money is good over here. Because right now? You don’t have that. There is a lot of content that DC hub desperately needs from an app that is desperately hanging on with no purpose.
This is what needs to happen. Kill off DC Daily and put it on Twitch. Live showings for everyone, and private chat for Twitch subscribers. Abbreviated episodes can go on Youtube later. This is a model what feels like millions of users have already perfected. Take those DC Universe exclusive shows I mentioned earlier and have them reap the benefits of the massive audience that Friends brings. The best thing for HBO Max absorbing DCU? Pushing all the content few people enjoy to the back of the line. I love Jonah Hex. That character speaks volumes. The movie? Speaks ass in trash and it speaks it fluently. It is not a good thing how prominent of a spot that movie has on the HBO Max app. Same goes for our Green Lantern movie. If we can pull in all the good from the DCU service then those movies can lose some of that stink, and Warner can be that much closer to trying again with great properties.
Now, lets talk comics. This is the trickiest part of the problem. How do you take comics away from people that have paid for the service? You don’t. The backlash would be minimal but it’d be there and you don’t want that. So, digital downloads for everyone. Either that or promise to incorporate comics into the HBO Max (convoluting the brand in the process). Its a lose/lose situation but you should of thought of that when you let whomever press the Go button on launching the DC service anyway.
When I’m done watching Wonder Woman and then I’m done watching Wonder Woman the animated movie, I’d love to be able to jump into the animated Justice League stuff. Nah, that stuff is still on a service that costs the exact same price as Disney+ and is no longer having new series announced for it.
The writing is on the wall and honestly this death sentence should have been carried out a year ago. HBO Max is good, not great. It has a lot of things that a lot of people should definitely want to see. It still feels like a prestigious badge of honor when I open it and see The Wire just a few scrolls away from Insecure, Harry Potter and Watchmen. Remember when Disney+ launched without all the Avengers movies (still a thing)? Remember when Disney+ launched without all the Star Wars movies? That’s how the Batman section looks in HBO Max. It looks crazy without the Nolan stuff. It looks worse because someone decided that Beware The Batman was a good choice to put in that collection of live action movies. Nah. Nah. Nah. That isn’t the DC Universe fault, but it speaks to the lack of foresight these companies have.
Launch now, deal later is the motto for all of these companies. What a shame. It hurts consumers initially and just doesn’t make sense to hurt your brand before it starts. Yeah, I know I’m rambling. Lots of thoughts and not a lot of coherency this morning of Max’s launch. Apologies. Still, I hope you’ll join me in grabbing my pitch fork made of green willpower and hunting down the service that has to die.