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The Flash has been a huge hit for The CW ever since its premiere back in 2014. The Scarlet Speedster drew in record numbers for the relatively diminutive network over its first two seasons, and the Season 2 finale ended on such a cliffhanger that it was entirely feasible the Season 3 premiere would bring some of the best ratings to date. Unfortunately, the numbers for the premiere are in, and they're disappointing enough that the question is now whether The Flash has already hit peak viewership.
The Season 3 premiere attracted 3.1 million viewers and drew a 1.2 rating in the valuable 18-49 demographic, which is still quite impressive for a CW series. The CW's top performers after The Flash are Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow, both of which averaged less than 2.5 million viewers and a 1.0 rating per week in the 2015-2016 TV season. The Flash's Season 3 premiere numbers are still obviously fantastic for the network.
That said, the Season 3 premiere did significantly worse than the Season 2 premiere last October. The Flash kicked off its second season with 3.6 million viewers and a 1.4 rating, and its second season finale scored 3.4 million and a 1.4. Last night's episode drew the smallest audience since an episode back in April 2016, according to TVLine. The ratings were great by CW standards, but they just weren't quite as great by The Flash standards. It's possible that the slump is a sign that the show has already had its heyday.
A few variables should be taken into account before The Flash fans start trying to figure out a way to change the timeline and get more folks to watch. The October premiere aired after most of the networks returned their shows to the airwaves in September. Viewers may still be trying to set their TV schedules for the 2016-2017 season, and the Flash premiere may not have attracted all of its past viewers to its live broadcast. Who knows? Maybe people just assumed that none of the networks would be airing new episodes of anything on the night of a vice presidential debate. The Flash could well jump up in ratings for the next episode or two.
Personally, I'm surprised that The Flash didn't do better with its Season 3 start. The Season 2 cliffhanger was a doozy, and the much-hyped Flashpoint story promised to shake things up on the show in a big way. I'll be curious to see how it does in its second week. There's also the chance that ratings will jump once the rest of the shows in The CW's DC lineup debut. Arrow has generally gotten more of a ratings boost from The Flash than the other way around, but maybe more people will be drawn to the network's superhero lineup once all four shows get into swing. Arrow returns to the airwaves tonight for Season 5, and both Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow premiere next week.
All in all, the lower numbers for The Flash in its big Flashpoint episode could be a fluke that will be remedied in the rest of Season 3, but they could also be a sign that The Flash has peaked. Only time will tell. Be sure to tune in to The Flash on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET to see what happens next for the Scarlet Speedster in Central City, and head to our fall TV schedule to see when your other favorite superheroes will be back.