The news of the arrival of the DC Universe streaming service delighted many fans. That is until they realised it would only be available in the U.S. Naturally, this is a disappointment for the rest of the world who’d like to watch the likes of Titans but cannot because of territorial restrictions. (Note: The show will be released on Netflix for the rest of the world; however, its release date is unknown.)
While it’s easy to understand the fan frustration, there are other factors that might be beyond DC’s control here. So, by breaking it down, hopefully it’ll all make a little more sense.
As we all know, the entertainment business is huge money. Networks and studios cut deals with companies, such as DC, for the rights to characters and franchises. For example, The CW has the rights to Green Arrow (Arrow) while Fox has Batman (Gotham). It’s the main reason you don’t see these characters or two worlds cross over in most cases. That said, deals can be cut between the different networks for it to happen, such as when Supergirl appeared in the Arrowverse when the rights were still at CBS.
In terms of TV, it’s important to remember that a network will fork out the money for the series and then sell it to other international territories where it may not operate. A good example is how a lot of HBO’s content can be found on DStv and Showmax, since HBO doesn’t operate as an actual network in South Africa.
This is where the issue with the DC Universe comes in. While many of the rights for shows and movies in the U.S. have lapsed or deals have been cut to air on the streaming platform, it’s a lot trickier for international rights. Suddenly, you’re no longer having a conversation with people in one region, but many across the globe and they aren’t all going to give you what you want (without getting their own cut of the profits).
If you look at it from the other regions’ perspective, it makes logical sense. Why would you hand over your bread and butter, which you paid for, to a platform that could possibly put you out of business?
Additionally, from the DC Universe‘s perspective, the launch of the service in the U.S. isn’t automatically a guaranteed success. It’s a huge risk, since it’ll be competing with the likes of Amazon Prime and Netflix. It’s still early days, but why would the service rollout worldwide if it would only increase the financial investment, as well as having to renegotiate all those pesky rights mentioned above? By licensing its shows to other providers internationally, it mitigates some financial risk and adds some much-needed cash to the coffers for now. Plus, you’ll probably find these new deals have caveats so that the content can return to DC Universe if and when it goes worldwide.
When you think about it logically, DC Universe‘s current business model makes financial sense, and Disney Plus is doing the same thing as well. For now, all that South African and other non-U.S. audiences can do is pray that these services do well enough to reach our shores and experience the full breadth of the services. Of course, there are many who’ll think VPN is the answer here, but these services are getting smarter to this, so be warned.