HBO Max and DC Universe bundle is a good idea – Merging? No, here’s why

Don’t know who this writer, Paul Tassi, is at Forbes, but his byline indicates he primarily focuses on “Games”, see the screenshot above from the article quoted below.

All of this is a mess and needs to be consolidated ASAP. If licensing deals are in place for years, leaving content on the likes of Netflix, sure, you have to wait until those expire. But DC Universe being folded into HBO Max would be enormous value added for that service and benefit both it and the shows themselves, with greater exposure and not leaving them relegated to this weird, spin-off DC service that only has like 25% of DC TV and movie content on it. Make the call.

It’s Clear HBO Max And DC Universe Just Need To Merge Already

It might be “clear” to the author of this Forbes piece, but it’s clearly not so clear to WarnerMedia and others. Will attempt to dissect this more clearly — ah, that translucent word — below.

Mr. Tassi’s work is an opinion piece, and on that basis is subjective in nature. His opinion can’t be wrong if he truly feels that DC Universe should just be merged into HBO Max. However, his article fails to focus on the main benefit of DCU not being the movie and TV shows — it’s the comics. The 24,000+ DC Comics. Time and again I see articles, including from prominent publications like Forbes failing to properly acknowledge the comic books, devaluing the amazing amount of creative artistic work included for subscribers.

In fairness, the article does indicate there is a “large library of comic books” available to DC Universe subscribers but the author, who also says he is a subscriber, doesn’t seem to place any value on them. In fact, he uses the word “weird” a few too many times to describe DCU. I counted at least 4 uses of the word “weird” in his piece.

There is also the DCU community, and that is free to everybody, not just DCU subscribers. Go over there with this article, and be ready for some pitchforks, Mr. Tassi. They will be kind pitchfork jabs, yes, because they have community guidelines to follow, but they won’t like the verbiage used flippantly in this article describing the service they love.

Comics are a major part of the DCU subscription. Even other DCU subscribers seem to miss this benefit, sometimes, and it is a cause of frustration among other subscribers who love the comics.

Admittedly, I’m not a huge comic book reader any longer — my darn lousy eyes make it difficult to focus on reading them comfortably for long periods of time — but even I can see how good a deal, for most comic book readers, having 24,000+ DC comic books available to read for $8/month. If I already owned the comics in physical or digital copies that I was interested in, yes, it would be less desirable subscribing, but the massive comics library, which grows every single month, can’t be discarded and overlooked.

And article after article just blindly compares DCU to every other streaming service. It’s not trying to be Netflix or HBO Max or even the horror niche Shudder. It’s more in line comparatively to Marvel’s comic book service that costs $10/month and Disney/Marvel does not include any movies or TV shows with that service. At least DCU includes some movie and TV content. The author speaks fondly of Disney+. You can’t read any comics at Disney+, but yes you can see a bunch of Marvel movies. Not all of them, by the way, also due to licensing. Eventually, they will all be there, I’m sure, but now they are in the same boat with pre-existing licensing deals.

Failing to prominently acknowledge these comics and labeling disrespectfully as a “weird, spin-off DC service” is unfair, ignorant and incorrect. Come on, Mr. Tassi. Do a little more research to backup strong opinions like these. You aren’t speaking for all other subscribers, especially not me.

DCU is a good service if you’re interested in DC comics, its heroes and villains. It’s not a very good movie and TV service. I wish the author would have made that distinction “clear.”

Oh, well. If I had a nickle for every online article I disagreed with … well, I could donate significantly to the cause on developing a COVID-19 vaccine.

That aside, I don’t completely disagree that HBO Max and DCU could merge successfully. The problem is people would continue to declare and dismiss the comic books, and consequently their customers, just as they are now. I think WarnerMedia, at least those in charge of DCU, understands this . They don’t want to be some sub service of HBO Max, relegated to a virtual subdomain or subcategory dungeon. And making their comic book customers feel like they weren’t important enough to have their own independent service.

These customers still enjoy buying comic books, subscribe to services like DCU. These people deserve their own service, however large or small that might appear to be — or actually is — to disinterested others.

Probably the wisest move that HBO Max could do is to offer a bundling plan that keeps DCU doing what’s already doing. Give DCU more original programming like the excellent Harley Quinn the animated series and then offer it on HBO Max (with the most recent announcement on 7/6/2020 that Stargirl season 2 will not be on DCU, but exclusively on CW, this does not bode well for any future exclusive DC TV shows, sigh — see: Stargirl Season 2 Renewed for The CW only, not on DC Universe – Crows are circling). Rotate DCU some content out of HBO Max or duplicate for these subscribers movies and TV series like Wonder Woman the original TV series.

Guess what, that’s what they are already doing.

There’s also Batman ’66, owned by Fox (Disney, go figure) and that would be a scoop to buy that back from Disney somehow. Arrowverse, mentioned in the article, will run its license out at Netflix and eventually return to the HBO Max nest and should/could also be made available to DCU subscribers.

What’s I’m saying here is offer a bundle like Disney does with Disney + Hulu + ESPN+ that offers both. I know recently DCU subscribers were offered $5/month to subscribe to HBO Max, but stupidly this was only offered to brand new HBO Max subscribers. Those who signed up for HBO Max like me weren’t included. Also, the offer was limited to six months and then the price jacked up to the regular $14.99/month.

How about they just make a bundle for both for $19.99/month. Or discount it further to $17.99/month. Either price would be a good deal and we wouldn’t have to keep reading articles like this Forbes one where the comic books are completely overlooked and ignored and the anemic movie and TV library at DCU is highlighted.

Making this argument is like saying Netflix should just buy Shudder and merge it into Netflix. Sometimes separate niche entities are executed better. We know when we go to Shudder, it’s all horror, all the time. Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, Hulu, they’ll never, ever be able to say that. There’s value there.

I’m not so sure a merge of the two services would be very good. HBO Max can’t even list their extras/bonus content properly or prominently (see: Companion Podcasts as Extras to Original Shows are Good Marketing and Fan Service) so what makes anybody think HBO Max would even be able to execute properly merging DCU into their service?

Merge, for these reasons is a no from me. Bundling? Yes, that makes sense. But it needs to be a real bundling deal for everybody, not just “new” customers, which is a slap in the face of customers like me who have subscribed for some time to DCU and was a day 1 subscriber to HBO Max.

Your thoughts, as always, are welcome below. Agree, disagree, it’s all good with me as long as you are thoughtful about it. My opinions aren’t facts, nor are the author’s of this piece. The best business decision is probably somewhere between both proposals.


4 thoughts on “HBO Max and DC Universe bundle is a good idea – Merging? No, here’s why

    1. It’s not just Forbes that has articles like this, they are all over the place.

      People just focusing on the movies and TV shows and thinking DC Universe is just another streaming service. I’ll admit that it looks that way, but once you go inside and realize how deep the comic books are covered and featured, it really isn’t. Identity and advertising is the problem and that’s largely the fault of WarnerMedia / DCU. They should define themselves as competing against other unlimited comics services likes Comixology and Marvel’s service. Until/if they do, people will continue to see them as another streaming movie and TV service and call for merging them into HBO Max.

      Suppose I’m somewhat guilty of referring to them that way here in the past as well, especially when highlighting shows being reviewed here like Harley Quinn (love that show!) and Stargirl (not as excited about that one).

      Liked by 1 person

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