GeekGround Jim Lee talks DC digital sales

8/9/19 9:24 AM
Posts: 47637
DC Co-Publisher/Chief Creative Office Jim Lee has opened up about the state of DC's digital comics offerings, including the publisher's DC Universe streaming service which hosts numerous original DC TV shows alongside a collection of DC comic books. According to Lee, DC Universe is thriving, while DC's individual digital comics are not doing as well. In fact, in Lee's words, DC's digital sales have "hit a wall."
"On the digital side, I think it's been pretty flat in recent years, which is a little disheartening," Lee told ICv2 about plateauing digital comic book sales. "A lot is moving to subscription, and that is having a downward pressure on transactional sales. But I think it's discouraging in general because everyone talks about digital being the future. If there's anything that should continue to grow year-in, year-out, it should be that channel."
"The fact that it's kind of plateaued and we've hit a wall speaks to a lot of different things," Lee continued. "We need to reinvent what we're doing digitally. The subscription service that we're doing on the DC Universe platform is part of that. We just have to get better at marketing to people that know our characters, love our characters, but aren't buying comics."
As for what the plateau in digital sales means for the DC Universe service, Lee still sees DC Universe as the future of the publisher, with susbscriptions remaining active and outpacing individual digital comic book sales.
"I think there's always going to be room for a tool that allows us to engage directly with fans.  That is the future, if I could borrow that line from digital," Lee said. "We have nothing really like it, so creating something that is the place where all DC fans can come together, buy, read, enjoy, connect, and communicate with or share community with one another is vital and important. We're still going to have original content going through, but that slate is still being worked on. There'll be announcements going forward."
When pressed if that original content would include more DC TV shows such as Titans and Doom Patrol in light of Warner Bros. impending launch of the HBO Max streaming service, which will incorporate Doom Patrol at least, Lee was more cagey about the prospect, focusing on speaking instead about the other aspects of DC Universe.
"Original content, and obviously a lot of people go on to watch the older material as well, the archived material, the library material," Lee explained. "That's a big part of it. Then obviously the comics. There are a lot of readers that are just reading the comics as well, so it's a great value proposition."
"We love being able to communicate directly with the fans, and so we've been building up the real life experiences and rewards that you get out of being a member," he continued. "It's not just being able to watch what you want when you want, but actually coming to conventions like this and being able to go to activations, get behind-the-scenes tours, special products, meet-and-greets, all that kind of stuff."
In the interview, conducted prior to the announcement that Doom Patrol would come to HBO Max, Lee said it was "too early to say" how media might be shared between the two platforms.
8/9/19 10:46 AM
Posts: 31263

I am not sure how the revenue stream would work, but an all inclusive subscription service for DC or Marvel might make a lot of sense. 10-15 bucks a month and you have access to all their titles and maybe even the back catalog?

8/9/19 3:34 PM
Posts: 2930

It's not going to change the fact that their current stuff is garbage. It might be worth it for the back catalog for new comers or those that don't want to have physical copies but when I finish getting the issues I'm missing for my collection, I'll be buying physical copies of the comics I couldn't buy before.

8/17/19 6:17 PM
Posts: 1120

I love Marvel Unlimited. I would happily sign up for DC Universe, but with comics being released a year behind on DC Universe, it's too much.

Marvel has a six month delay from print to going up on MU. Twelve months is too long.

8/20/19 2:57 PM
Posts: 15458

JJ comments:

DC Universe doesn't really have enough content to keep you interested. I'll subscribe for a while then switch to Marvel Unlimited then maybe something else then back.

They need to put their entire back catalog on there which they said they were doing, but it needs to be in order and then have options for specific storylines. On my Roku and my iPad before I dropped it, it made you search too much only to find a storyline then the series skips 100 issues.  With the Cartoons it has a selected number but not everything. Just put everything on there and have the premiers of movies like Hush be events. If someone wants to watch the Dark Knight they go there to watch it or buy it, it's not Netflix or on TNT every other day. 

Their daily show they do isn't that fun, i'd rather see them spend the money for that on videos like that comicstorian or Rob guy does on YouTube. That way it could explain storylines to people who can't read that many back issues and update the casual or new fan on what's going on.  

If they could just do that stuff I'd probably keep it monthly for the 7.99, at least longer than now.. If they want me to go up to $10.99 a month?  If they did the only 6 months behind on comics and went full out with a DC TV Universe based on the Titans Universe I'd be all in. Just do a separate Batman or Superman TV show already, it would pull massive numbers and TV is where they started. Swamp Thing is boring, Doom Patrol was cool but too obscure. They need a big name character on that platform to pull themselves to a million.  If they pull a million they're self sufficient like WWE network. 


Then for the hardcore comic fan i'd make about 2-3000 less books than what your average sales are. Then have a two tiered subscription service. The physical comic subscription comes with a digital copy or just the digital copy for cheaper all in the same day. That way you put value back on the physical books for being something wanted but not everyone can have and the digital comics for people who just want to follow the story. 


Then you know maybe stop rebooting your universe...make better stories, etc..