It's Time for the CW to Accept Who They Are and Embrace Their Audience
As the guy who covers the DCTV superhero shows here on Bleeding Cool, I'm always curious about the ratings and how the shows are performing. The CW is the main hotspot with the four Arrowverse series, and taking a look at the numbers this fall, there are some interesting things to see. You have to start with the fact that TV-watching is down across the board, and the CW is the only network that has remained mostly even compared to last year. Though they have the smallest audience, it is the most consistent.
Their top-rated show is The Flash, coming in at a 0.9 rating, which is down 15% from last year. While the CW's thresholds for success are set lower, The Flash would actually be doing decent against the other networks numbers, beating 16 dramas on ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC.
The thing that the CW probably wants to figure out is why this series does so much better than its Arrowverse brethren. Their second-best show is Supernatural, which is just amazing after 13 seasons. The show pulls in a 0.6 rating and compares even to last year's numbers, even with it moving between 8 and 9 p.m. last year. I think the Winchester brothers have a strong, loyal fan base who will watch the show no matter where or when it's at.
The big surprise is just how well Riverdale has done after moving from 9 p.m. Thursday last year to 8 p.m. Wednesday this year. The series is pulling a 0.57 rating and is up 46%, which helped the network maintain their overall audience. The interesting thing is that it's performing near or just under where Arrow was in that same time slot last year.
That brings us back to the Arrowverse and the fourth series on the network, DC's Legends of Tomorrow. The show is pulling a 0.55 rating, down only 5% from last year, which is a respectable drop. And then you take into account that the series moved from an 8 p.m. Thursday slot to a 9 p.m. Tuesday and that becomes impressive. But the real impressive number is when you compare it to No Tomorrow, the series that was in the Tuesday 9 p.m. slot last year, and Legends is up 115%. This also explains why the network has decided to use this time slot for Black Lightning starting in January.
The show that should be concerned is Supergirl. Coming in fifth it pulls a 0.55 rating just as Legends does, but the series is down 25% overall all and is on Mondays at 8 p.m. The biggest difference may be who it's up against this season. Where last year it was slated against Gotham, this year it's taking on the more popular Lucifer. The numbers are still solid for a CW, but the series is going to come back for a few weeks and then go on hiatus for nine weeks while Legends airs. This will have Supergirl finishing her season after the May sweeps.
Arrow is even more interesting in that it's the lowest rated of the Arrowverse series coming in at 0.51, down 18% from last year. But it's comparing apples and oranges in a way a the show moved from its regular 8 p.m. Wednesday slot that it has been for five seasons to the 9 p.m. Thursday slot after Supernatural. When you compare it to what Riverdale had been doing in that time slot, Arrow is holding it's audience better. This is what happens when networks start playing the shell game trying to find the right combination to get the most viewers.
After Arrow, the next series on the CW ranking, Jane the Virgin, comes in with about half the audience, pulling in a 0.25 which is down 29% from last year. After that it's Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Dynasty, and Valor, all coming in with a 0.22 rating. Network executives have to be taking a serious look here and seeing that there getting less than half the audience for non-genre series. Valor and Dynasty would have to be considered failures, and that's on top of No Tomorrow and Frequency from last year.
Once considered the network with young, diverse and attractive casts… now it seems there needs to be a metahuman, a vampire, or at least a serial killer to get fans to tune in. The days of Melrose Place reboots is gone. The CW has created an almost boutique network that specializes in genre dramas and the fans are showing up for it. But the network seems hesitant to embrace it. They continue to do shows for the critical acclaim even though they bring in half the ratings. The key to success is giving your audience what they want. I think the above numbers show clearly what the audience wants from the CW.
The numbers are based on the Live + Same Day ratings and don't take into account any additional viewers from DVRs, On-Demand, or internet viewing. It's only looking at the show of the Fall season and not the series that will be returning this spring.