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Do HBO Max's Superhero Shows Mean the End of DC Universe's Exclusives?

Recent news broke about several planned DC adaptations set to debut on Warner Bros. new streaming service, HBO Max, that could put the nail in the coffin for the claims of content exclusivity made by DC Universe. While exclusivity initially proved a majorly attractive feature of the service during its debut, the move could mean that other services will offer access to much of the same content.

Some of the most recent news involves the expansion of HBO Max, the streaming service that draws from much of Warner Bros.'s intellectual property. Not only was it announced that the second season of Doom Patrol would stream on HBO Max, despite starting on DC Universe's own platform, but additional series such as Green Lantern and Strange Adventures shows that DC properties will proceed from an ever-diversifying source of services.

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When DC's streaming service launched, it promised a mix of live-action and animated content that would be original to the platform. In addition to a catalog of previous DC shows and a selection of comics, the service was set to be the perfect fix for any fan of DC across multiple sources of media, but it's a fix that can now be satisfied on HBO, as well as The CW, where many DC shows already thrive.

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Speaking of which, things are going as well as ever over on The CW, where the massive multi-show crossover event "Crisis On Infinite Earths" creates not only the perfect jumping-on point for new fans but a rallying cry for any older fans who may have dropped off of the shows previously. With the planned Superman & Lois series set to expand the Arrowverse even further, The CW ship shows no sign of slowing down.

HBO Max sets sail with the planned space adventures of a (yet to be announced) Green Lantern and the pulp sci-fi hero Adam Strange. Both projects have reason to be budget-heavy and ambitious shows with all of the clout and reputation of HBO ready to prop them up into success, and budgetary concerns over production were the cited reason for Doom Patrol's move to the new service. With Warner Bros. pushing to consolidate its content and provide several DC films on the HBO streaming platform, there could potentially be less for DC's own service.

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Certainly, the competition between streaming services will become all the more fierce with Disney+, which debuted on Nov. 12. Already announcing its jaw-dropping amount of content reaching across the spectrum of bought-up properties and several decades of making its own films and television, it's no wonder why Warner Bros. would seek to expand its focus beyond niche markets like DC exclusives. The DC Universe streaming service may just prove to be a little brother project to the larger HBO service, and certainly, its offering of online comic book content helps differentiate it in an increasingly competitive market.

Of course, Marvel Unlimited already offers free and purchasable comic book content, so DC Universe could be set to play both sides of the field. Despite the exclusivity being a major draw, the potential loss of that exclusivity is not necessarily a death knell, given its ability to be both a streaming service and an online comics reader.  Still, the transition may be rough and it remains to be seen what shape the service will take over time.

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