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In a nutshell, the DC Universe streaming service is the epitome of a la carte programming. The thing is, we're now at a point in the streaming era where customers are realizing just how mightily expensive it can get to be super-selective with one's entertainment choices. As such, many have been predicting DC Universe's eventual downfall, and if HBO Max's launch set up the embroidered coffin, WarnerMedia's recent layoffs and restructuring process may serve as the proverbial coffin nails.
Both DC Universe and the flagship comic book giant lost a notable number of employees in recent days, with THR reporting that the majority of the streaming service's staff has been laid off, while DC lost a third of its editorial staff, with Editor-in-Chief Bob Harris among those ousted. (Comic collectible manufacturer DC Direct was also shut down.) Some of these changes were fully expected to happen eventually, sure, but it's still quite a shock to see it all go down at once.
Other changes within WarnerMedia will make up for those shake-ups, and by all means, DC Universe will still be alive until someone announces that the plug is being pulled. (Which would likely occur 35 minutes after the plug had been pulled, because Watchmen.) But this is just another unfortunate line in the sand, on a beach that has increasingly become more lines than sand.
2020 has been a particularly dire year for anyone (like myself) hoping that DC Universe would defy the naysayers to continue building the brand upwards and outwards. And unlike most business-related setbacks this year, the pandemic isn't the main culprit. Harley Quinn Season 2 may well go down as the last DC Universe original series to air exclusively on the service, though both seasons were soon ported to HBO Max, which also served as the secondary home for Doom Patrol's weekly Season 2 episodes. The fact that neither comic book series has heard a whisper about Season 3 on DC Universe is definitely telling.
Another big potential piece of evidence is Geoff Johns' Stargirl. Though it began its existence as a DC Universe exclusive, The CW stepped up as Stargirl's linear TV home throughout Season 1, similar to Doom Patrol's second season. The different there, of course, is that when Stargirl got renewed for Season 2, the deal was such that The CW is now the only place that viewers will be able to find it. The CW will also be giving DC Universe's Swamp Thing a network TV run following its frustratingly untimely cancellation after only a single episode aired. (Fingers crossed for the Arrowverse crossover.)
The fact that all of this is happening BEFORE the upcoming DC FanDome event is even more mind-boggling, but hopefully that just means all of the announcements that will be made at the expo were in full consideration before all the recent changes. As of this moment, Titans is the only DC Universe original series that hasn't been pushed onto another streaming service, so perhaps fans will hear about its fate at FanDome.
Honestly, if HBO Max is able to keep pumping big budgets into live-action DC Comics projects such as J.J. Abrams' Justice League Dark project and Matt Reeves' upcoming Batman-verse, I am not going to stop that from happening. But if it meant that DC Universe could still stick so that its massive comic book library was still around for the perusing, that would be amazing. So make it happen, WarnerMedia!
While waiting to hear more about DC Universe's fate, check out our Fall 2020 TV premiere schedule to see what's coming to linear TV and other streaming services in the coming months.