Riverdale leads The CW’s ratings growth as Arrowverse loses some viewers

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Dec 26, 2019, 2:51 PM EST (Updated)

The CW’s heavy lean on genre shows has long made for a solid formula, helping it develop a loyal and steadily growing fan base. But now that TV ratings are in for the network's batch of new fall episodes, does it look like a formula that still works?

Well, yes ... probably. Although Riverdale, The CW’s big score this fall, was undeniably huge, there’s definitely been some jostling as the network learns where the boundaries of its larger superhero fandom appear to lie.

First, the good news: The Flash is still on top, Supernatural defies age, and the second season of the Archie Comics-based Riverdale absolutely shot out the gate. While The Flash’s viewership declined when compared with its last batch of original episodes, the show continues to outflank its competition on other networks, matching or besting 16 programs on the big four: ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox (according to TV Line).

The stalwart Supernatural, meanwhile, came in as The CW’s second-most-watched fall show, holding exactly the same ratings as in its previous season. There’s not much to say here, except that, over the course of its 13 seasons, The CW has evidently learned not to mess with success.

Riverdale’s second season came in third at the network. The first-run batch of episodes for Season 2 of Riverdale saw an impressive ratings surge of 46 percent over viewership numbers for Season 1, which first aired in January of 2017.

Aside from being a pretty addicting show, Riverdale also likely got its second-season boost thanks to the audience-grabbing power of Netflix, where the first season has been streaming — and collecting loads of new fans — since May.

Legends of Tomorrow, in a new timeslot on Tuesdays, came in a pretty solid fourth for The CW, losing 5 percent of viewers. It’s likely an acceptable loss, though, considering that The Flash had served as the show’s strong lead-in during the previous season.

If there’s a true cloud behind The CW’s strong genre silver lining, it’s likely Valor — a decidedly non-genre show that ended up tying Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and Dynasty for dead last among the network’s first-run fall shows. Valor’s series debut in October saw a viewership dive of 37 percent compared with Jane the Virgin, which had previously aired in the same timeslot.

The true outlier, though, may be Supergirl, which saw a pretty steep drop in viewership — 25 percent — versus its earlier performance in the same timeslot. Midway through Season 3, new episodes of Supergirl are set to shift to Mondays, to make way for the series premiere of Black Lightning in the lead-off spot on Tuesdays.

Is there a pattern here? Riverdale and the Archie-verse are looking super-solid, the Arrowverse, for now, appears to be holding steady, and we’re still not quite sure what to make of Supergirl. The Season 3 finale’s slated for June 18 (yes, that’s still a Monday), so it’s just a matter of time before the picture — hopefully — gets clearer.