Could HBO Max be the death of the Arrowverse?


There is a lot of excitement for the coming of HBO Max, but could the move to this steaming platform kill The CW’s Arrowverse?

There is much excitement for the upcoming streaming service HBO MAX, which will be home to many original programming, as well as classics of film and TV. According to Variety, HBO Max will become the exclusive streaming home for all of The CW’s DC Comics television shows, including Arrow, Batwoman, Legends of Tomorrow and The Flash among others. The DC programs on the CW will become available on HBO Max:

"“30 days prior to the TV premiere of the next seasons of those shows. CW shows currently licensed to Netflix, which include Riverdale, The Flash, and Arrow, will remain on Netflix for the next few years.”"

Now, this seems like a solid business model to attract new and old viewers. However, it is very possible that by making HBO MAX the exclusive streaming home for all of The CW’s DC television shows, it could actually kill the Arrowverse. How you may ask? Well, let me explain. Superhero programming is massively popular right now, with the MCU and DCEU selling millions of tickets and raking in billions of dollars.

However, the world of superhero TV, while popular, has not been able to reach the heights of the movie world. The most popular was the premiere of Agents of SHIELD, which had an impressive audience of 12 million. While many of the shows have been hits and do have large fanbases, they are still small. The Arrowverse shows, in particular, normally only achieving a 0.5-1.0 in the 18-35 demo and fewer than 5 million viewers.

More from Arrowverse

Many have asked how the Arrowverse shows can get such small ratings and still go on to be renewed year after year. The secret is not much of a secret at all, and it goes by the name of Netflix. Netflix pays licensing fees for shows to be on the platform, and it’s been known that a major portion of the Arrowverse shows budgets get paid for by this sizable licensing fee.

Now, why is this a problem? Well, according to the LA Times, the previous deal with Netflix and The CW (before 2016) brought in over a billion dollars, which brought the network out of the red and allowed them to expand the programming with shows like Supergirl. Now that the network will be moving all its content to HBO Max, it’s safe to say the network will not be signing a future deal with Netflix and thus not bringing in over a billion dollars.

Thus it is sadly very possible that The CW will once again fall on hard times, as its pretty much a sure thing that HBO Max and Warner Bros will not be paying a billion dollars to its own sub-company. Thus leaving shows like the Arrowverse franchise in the lurch. Look at CBS All Access. The expensive Star Trek: Discovery has its whole budget paid for by Netflix in exchange for the international distribution rights. Without this deal, the show would likely not look as good as it does.

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With no Netflix deal for The CW and exclusive streaming, it is very possible we could see the Arrowverse fold in a few years. Hopefully, this is not the case, and HBO Max and The CW can find a way to make sure the DC shows are safe for another 10 years.