Arrow just returned to the schedule last night, but the early ratings for the superhero series that kicked off the DC dominance on the CW are already in. Unfortunately, those numbers weren't as high as anticipated, especially for a premiere. This morning, we learned that Arrow actually dropped 36% in the 18-49 advertising demo when compared to last year's Season 4 premiere. Even the hope that we are nearing the end of Oliver Queen's flashbacks wasn't enough to entice people to tune in.
In Live+ same day ratings, Arrow brought in a .7 rating in the 18-49 demographic and 1.9 million total viewers. In comparison, the premiere last fall brought in a 1.1 rating and 2.6 million total viewers. Obviously, it wasn't just young viewers who didn't show up, but total viewers were also down a significant chunk. The Wrap reports the show saw a 29% overall drop in its Season 5 return.
We would like to point out that for the CW these numbers are not totally dismal. Shows like Reign or Jane the Virgin have done markedly lower numbers and have remained on the air. However, a drop for a show like Arrow may not mean great long-term news for the series---especially because it means fewer DC fans bothered to tune in live for the premiere this year.
Arrow wasn't the only premiere that was down. The Flash also saw lower numbers for its premiere, and that show hasn't peaked in terms of its storyline in the same way that Arrow seems to have in recent episodes. Currently the network's most popular superhero drama, a drop does not bode well for the overall state of all the DC shows. It should be noted that Arrow has had some storyline issues during recent seasons. Some fans were not fond of the Olicity plot. Other fans have not loved the magical aspects Arrow has added or have gotten tired of the flashbacks. There are likely myriad reasons for the drop.
Part of the problem may also be that there are so many superhero shows on the CW at this point. There are four different programs to keep track of and four shows that are planning a slew of crossover this seasons. Speaking as someone who writes for TV for a living, it is crazy hard to keep track of the DC's superhero universe on the CW, and some casual viewers may simply have given up this season. Other viewers may simply have DVR'd the premiere episodes. A certain other faction may also have forgotten the CW scheduled most of its premieres for the first couple of weeks in October rather than the end of September like other networks.
The only thing we can do is wait and see how the Arrow-verse continues to fare in the coming weeks. Both Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow are back next week, and that could supplement or erode the overall ratings for the DC shows. To find out when the rest of your favorites are returning, check out our fall TV premiere schedule.