Opinion: So about that WB/DC Digital Streaming Service…Thingy.

So Warner Bros and DC Entertainment just announced a new, DC-branded service that will debut in 2018 with two high-profile series as exclusive content. The first show is a live-action Teen Titans series simply dubbed Titans from Producer Greg Berlanti (Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow), Director Akiva Goldsman (The Dark Tower, Fringe), DC’s CCO Geoff Johns, and Sarah Schechter (president of Berlanti Productions). The other show is the much anticipated third season of Young Justice which is produced by Warner Bros Animation’s President Sam Register along with series creator’s Greg Weisman and Brandon Vietti. And we now know that the new season will be dubbed Young Justice: Outsiders. That’s all wonderful news despite not having much else to go on. There’s not even a name for this WB/DC digital streaming service thingy so understandably, a lot of issues are being raised.

The first and foremost being why season three of Young Justice isn’t going to be on Netflix. In my heart, I knew this was never going to happen. As soon as WB/DC announced season three was happening but didn’t disclose the platform it would appear on, I knew it wasn’t Netflix as Netflix tends to publicly announce what stuff gets picked up. I understand a lot of folks are pissed that Young Justice won’t be on Netflix, but let’s not pretend that Netflix singlehandedly brought the series back. It was a joint effort with YJ fans around the world binge watching the series, getting the word out across social media, and buying the merchandise from legitimate sources.

That last part is very crucial as Blu-Ray sales from Warner Archive’s release proved to Warner Bros. that Young Justice was still financially viable. Remember, Young Justice was cancelled because its toyline failed (and also partially because that terrible Green Lantern movie soured the entire DC Superhero toyline). Animation is very expensive and as I’ve stated in my Transformers: Rescue Bots review, children’s entertainment (like a lot of mainstream entertainment these days when you think about it) exists to sell product first and foremost. And then there’s Titans was stuck in development hell at TNT before they ultimately passed on the project. So those two shows now exist to sell the New WB/DC digital streaming service thingy as a new IP wouldn’t be able to build a subscription base with only original series. That’s what Netflix did with Arrested Development, that’s what CBS/Paramount is currently doing with Star Trek: Discovery, and YouTube Red…isn’t really doing that so they’re going to have to learn the hard way.

So yeah, I can’t muster up the moral outrage over a new season of Young Justice being gated behind WB/DC digital streaming service thing. I get that Netflix is practically ubiquitous and a new season of Young Justice simply wouldn’t exist without fans convincing WB/DC to pour money into a revival of a cult cartoon series. But at the end of the day, entertainment is a luxury item and not a necessity. Nobody needs a streaming service to live, but I think we can all agree that more Young Justice is better than nothing.

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All that being said, I’m not oblivious to the other concerns being brought up by many DC Comics fans. In particular, the absence of details regarding price, availability, and additional content are pretty much crucial to determining whether or not this new WB/DC digital streaming service thing is worth having. Yes, entertainment is a luxury but it shouldn’t cost as much as buying a house to watch an episode of Young Justice and if I’m going to opt into this new WB/DC digital streaming service thing, I want to know what’s in it for me. Like any consumer, my personal interests come first.

Now as of this posting, I have a Netflix streaming plan priced at $11.99 a month. I can watch any one of thousands of movies or tv shows in 4K Ultra HD across four screens from virtually anywhere on Earth. I can even download some tv episodes to my phone to watch offline. While not many people don’t need these features, the sheer magnitude of original/licensed content that comes to Netflix every week makes it worth paying for regardless of what plan you choose. I’m also subscribed to the WB/Turner classic cartoon streaming service Boomerang and at $4.99 a month, there’s enough content on hand to justify the price.

So if the new WB/DC digital streaming service thing is going for the paid subscription route, I think it needs to be between the two pricing tiers I’m paying for. Paying any fee higher than what Netflix has to offer without a similar amount of content/features on hand is too much for consumers to swallow. And if WB/DC wants people to pay anything less than what I’m paying for Boomerang, that digital streaming service thingy runs the risk of operating at a huge loss. Hell, I can buy an episode of Young Justice on iTunes for $1.99. In realistic terms, paying that much a month for a video subscription service isn’t enough to create new original content that’s equivalent to a season of Young Justice or will it be enough to sustain said service in the long run.

But let’s get into the heart at why so many people are pissed that Young Justice: Outsiders isn’t coming to Netflix, availability. You see, Netflix is readily available in over 190 countries and Young Justice appeared in many of those countries. While nothing has been confirmed, when you consider that all of WB’s current streaming services aren’t available to watch outside of North America, the notion that this new WB/DC digital streaming service thingy might go that route strikes fear into the hearts of international fans. It would absolutely suck for fans outside of America for them to be unable to watch new episodes of Young Justice.

This is where the topic of online piracy comes into play and while I don’t condone the act of stealing copyrighted material (especially in an era where your online activity is being WATCHED), I sympathize with those who can’t buy stuff that’s not available to them. After all, online piracy is a symptom of traditional media unable to compete with the convenience of one clicking your way to whatever content you want. I don’t know if WB/DC is willing to take the financial plunge of licensing and localizing their content across the globe (which is costly), but it could curb some of that pesky online piracy while building an international brand.

I’ve wanted a channel dedicated to DC content ever since I was a 10 year kid watching Batman and Superman on Kid’s WB. It looks like I’m finally getting my wish in 2018 and while I’m very excited about the new Teen Titans series and a new season of Young Justice, I’m not happy with the prospect that not everyone will be able to enjoy it because of the necessary evil of media exclusivity and the weariness people have with the ever growing number of subscription based streaming services out there. But ultimately, I prefer the somewhat democratized paid subscription model instead of leaving shows in the hands of the near obsolete Nielsen ratings system. We live in an age where people can watch whatever, whenever, and wherever so I hope this new WB/DC digital streaming service…thingy works out for everyone.

Oh. And if you’re planning to pirate Young Justice: Outsiders out of spite that it’s not coming to Netflix, you were never a Young Justice fan to begin with. I’m going to get into the costs of producing a series or how piracy negatively impacts the people who make the shows you watch, but a true fan supports the things they like by PAYING FOR THEM.

 


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