The CW has cornered the small screen market on superhero series, at least of the DC variety, and it's all thanks to the premiere of Arrow back in 2012. If Arrow hadn't been such a hit for the network, the likes of The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow and probably even Supergirl never would have made it to the airwaves. Now, however, Arrow isn't quite the hit it once was, and the disappointing ratings for its midseason premiere further point to a troubling trend in The CW's superhero lineup.
The Arrow midseason premiere scored only a 0.6 in the valuable 18-49 age demographic on the night and attracted a mere 1.68 million total viewers. Both numbers were drops from the 0.68 rating and 1.94 million viewers from the midseason finale, and those numbers weren't very good to begin with. It seems that the cliffhanger that brought back Laurel Lance was not enough to bring back the entire audience to see what happened next. TV by the Numbers reports that only The CW's Frequency performed worse than Arrow last night across the broadcast grid.
While the 0.6 rating and 1.68 million viewers aren't the very worst numbers that Arrow has ever pulled in, they're particularly notable for the fact that they're lower than the numbers drawn by Legends of Tomorrow the night before. Arrow has usually outperformed the time travel series in both ratings and viewership, but the Legends midseason premiere earned a 0.6 rating and 1.79 million viewers with The Flash as its new lead-in. Things aren't looking great on the Arrow front.
Legends of Tomorrow also experienced a drop for its return to the airwaves in 2017. In fact, all four superhero series on The CW drew lower-than-usual numbers in both demo ratings and viewership in their midseason premiere. We have to wonder now if CW audiences are tiring of superhero action in primetime. Given that Arrow, The Flash, and Legends of Tomorrow all seem to be more connected than ever in the 2016-2017 TV season, it's possible that viewers aren't eager to keep up with all three shows to understand what's happening in one. At the very least, I have to imagine that Arrow fans who don't watch The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow were confused by a lot of what Black Siren had to say in the midseason premiere.
That said, there are plenty of possible reasons for the disappointing ratings trend that don't point to viewers tiring of comic book action on The CW. This week's lower ratings could simply mean that regular viewers didn't actually know that they were premiering. The CW is by far the lowest-rated network on broadcast television, and the superhero shows tend to outperform the rest of the network's programming. Fans of the Flarrow-verse may not watch The CW for anything else and therefore didn't see any advertising to know to tune in this week. Maybe the delayed viewing ratings will be an indication.
Luckily, all the fans who did tune in to Arrow and the other superhero shows don't need to worry that the ratings mean disaster for the future. Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, and Supergirl have all been renewed for the 2017-2018 TV season. We'll just have to wait and see if the ratings continue to drop in what's left of this season.
Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for the latest in TV superhero news, and don't forget to check out our midseason TV premiere schedule.