DC Universe: DC's new TV and comic book streaming service explained

DC Universe
Image Credit: DC Comics

DC Universe has arrived – but what is it, and why should fans of DC comics, TV shows, and films be excited?

We've seen a wave of streaming services based on individual channels or network families, from HBO Now to CBS All Access and even ESPN+, but soon we'll be seeing more content and company-centric offerings – Disney's long-teased streaming service that will arrive on November 12, 2019, packing exclusive Star Wars shows and more, is a prime example.

DC has now officially launched its own subscription-based service for fans of the legendary comic book company, and this one has a twist: it's not only a streaming video service for movies and TV shows based on their comics, but also a comic-reading app along the lines of Marvel Unlimited or comiXology Unlimited. Here's what you need to know about it. 

[Updated: DC Universe will be available on the Xbox One family of devices starting in April 2019. The service will roll out starting on April 15, around the same time as the premier of  Justice League vs. The Fatal Five. Like other platforms, DC Universe on Xbox One will cost you $7.99 per month or $74.99 per year, and includes all 20,000 of the comics available on the service.]

DC Titans

What content will DC Universe have? 

DC Universe will debut five brand new, exclusive TV shows during its first year of existence, beginning with Titans. The first trailer was revealed at Comic-Con, and depicts an intensely dark and gritty adaptation, complete with rampant gore and a shot of Robin saying "F--- Batman" while laying into a gang of street thugs.

Later in that first year, we'll see live-action shows Doom Patrol and Swamp Thing (not the 1990-93 version), as well as exclusive animated series Young Justice: Outsiders and Harley Quinn.

The service will also house new HD versions of Batman: The Animated Series and the Wonder Woman TV series, along with animated movies like Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter, and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. Live-action films like Batman, Superman: The Movie, Batman Returns, and Batman Forever have also been spotted on the website and in the first trailer.

Unfortunately, there's no sight of newer flicks like Wonder Woman and Justice League, let alone The Dark Knight Trilogy, while TV series like the current Arrow, The Flash, and Legends of Tomorrow seem to be MIA. Those ongoing series are all on Netflix, however.

As far as comic books go, The Verge reports that DC Universe will include some 2,000-3,000 digital comics, with images suggesting a scattered mix of books old and new highlighting well-known characters. The site's report claims that you'll be able to zoom into a single panel on a 4K TV set to view the artwork with incredible clarity. 

Batman Beyond

Where can I access DC Universe?

DC Universe hopefuls can access the streaming service on a variety of different devices and media players. There's a simple online browser, for one – as well as corresponding apps to watch DC content on Roku streaming devices, Android TV, Apple TV, Android and iOS mobile devices, and now Amazon Fire TV devices too. You can also add Xbox One to that list starting in April 2019.

You'll only be able to access the service in the US, though. There's no word on when DC Universe could roll out to other territories – it's only a few months old, to be fair – though with the live-action TV show Titans coming to Netflix UK, we hope DC are keeping an eye on the potential audiences they could find worldwide.

How much does DC Universe cost? 

When DC Universe goes live this fall, the service will set you back $7.99 per month. If you choose to go big and commit to a full year, you'll save a solid chunk of change: the annual fee is $74.99, which saves you 20% over the month-to-month approach.

Already sold on the service? If you pre-order an annual subscription now, they'll toss on three free months to sweeten the deal, plus you'll be entered into a contest to win two tickets to the Aquaman movie premiere later this year.

And if you'd rather wait, DC Universe will offer a free 7-day trial once it's live.

How does DC Universe differ from other streaming services? 

The hybrid nature makes it distinct from other services. There are plenty of streaming video services, of course, but Netflix and CBS All Access don't feature comic books. Likewise, there are all-you-can-read comic book services like Marvel Unlimited and comiXology Unlimited, but those apps don't have a lick of video on them.

It always seemed surprising that DC didn't launch its own take on Marvel Unlimited and open up the vault for a monthly fee, but now we know why. That said, the comics selection in DC Universe is much, much smaller: its expected haul of 2,000-3,000 books is a fraction of Marvel Unlimited's 20,000+ comics.

But you're getting half of one service and half of another, essentially. Netflix starts at $7.99 and Marvel Unlimited goes for $9.99 a month, whereas DC Universe sort of splits the difference.

Ultimately, we suspect that DC Universe won't be viewed primarily as a streaming video app or a comics app. Instead, it's the quintessential, all-in DC experience app for serious fans, offering movies, TV shows, comics, conversation, info, and merch on demand.

Young Justice: Outsiders

Should I subscribe to DC Universe? 

Do you absolutely love Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, and the rest of DC's top-tier heroes and villains? Do you follow the myriad DC TV series airing these days and still wish there was more to watch each week? Are you eager to loop back on old-school DC animated and live-action series?

If you answered "yes" to any of those points, then you will most likely want to subscribe to DC Universe. Granted, we haven't used the app yet and we don't know how well it'll perform as a streaming service or comic-reading experience, but assuming the technical benchmarks are cleared and it delivers the amount of content that's been promised so far, then we have to imagine that DC fans are going to eat it up.

Of course, the downside with such a focused service is the possibility of running out of compelling content at some point. Is DC prepared to to continue these original shows for multiple seasons? Will the company bring the more recent films to the service as well? And will the curated comics selection grow, or at least see frequent turnover?

It's too early to know for sure, but with five potentially compelling shows anchoring the service and plenty of other past content alongside, DC Universe looks like the real deal for the DC faithful.