Why the Arrowverse shows are losing so many viewers
The 2020-2021 TV season has been rough for the CW signing Arrowverse programs, (Super girl, Flash, Legends of tomorrow, Batwoman, Black Lightning, and Superman and Lois) with a drastic drop in the number of viewers for each program. The trend has caused many entertainment media to start speculating on the possible end of the Arrowverse. While many might believe this hearing loss is due to the pandemic, the reality is that the Arrowverse’s hearing problems started before the pandemic.
New seasons of Super girl, Batwoman, Flash, Legends of tomorrow, and Black Lightning have all seen Arrowverse shows suffer from low viewership numbers since their return in 2021, as reviewed by Cosmic Book News. Even the much vaunted Superman and Lois, after initial audience success, fell to a series low when he returned after a two-month hiatus from broadcasting, joining other Arrowverse shows with declining audiences.
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There are more TV options than ever for superhero fans with the explosion of streaming services. Once known for making superhero TV shows trendy and attracting younger audiences, the CW’s Arrowverse’s position as a leader in the production of superhero shows may be under threat. The CW has shifted the time slots of several Arrowverse shows for the 2021-2022 television season, but the drop in Arrowverse numbers cannot be attributed solely to programming.
Arrowverse began to decline after Crisis on Infinite Earths
Originally conceived and executed as the ambitious network narrative of the iconic graphic novel, Crisis on Infinite Earths was meant to unite the Arrowverse shows and make future crossovers easier. A series of real-world events such as the effect of the pandemic on production and Ruby Rose’s departure from Batwoman and the announced series ends of the two Super girl, and Black Lightning led the Arrowverse to fail in fulfilling that promise. These events, combined with the departure of the Arrowverse anchor show Arrow – which ended with low scores cited in Comicbook.com – gave fans less reason to get involved in The CW’s superhero universe.
Post-Crisis storytelling could have meant some daring swings for the characters and the show, but most shows featured only minor script changes in response to Earth-Prime’s groundbreaking creation. Problems caused by Crisis, such as memories of previous Earths, or the possibility of existing doppelgangers were barely mentioned in post-Crisis episodes, with many of the Arrowverse shows being inconsistent in how they handled their post-Crisis world.
How Arrowverse’s ratings drops affect CW shows in 2022
The recent announcement of the CW’s fall 2021-2022 lineup may indicate the network is seeking solutions to its declining audience problem. The network has moved scripted superhero series away from the highly competitive Sunday night lineup. Batwoman will begin its third season with a new midweek time slot; and Legends of tomorrow, which will be one of the two oldest Arrowverse shows on the network, will air on its fourth different night of the week.
The network also announced that it is returning to crossovers, previously successful Arrowverse marketing tools, with a 5-episode crossover where heroes from other shows visit. Flash. The CW might hope that the downward spiral of interest audience members feel in individual shows will give way to audiences invested in the Arrowverse heroes who will team up again. The CW has also ordered a new DC show for the next TV season, Naomi, a new superhero in DC’s comic canon. Audiences have responded positively to DC shows that have minimal connection to the pre-Crisis Arrowverse.
Superman and Lois are now the main focus of the Arrowverse
Superman and Lois debuted in spring 2021 alongside TV line said was “offering The CW’s largest audience in this time slot (1.71 mil) in two years, since The Flash 5 × 12. “The CW invested a large production budget in the series to give it widescreen quality and special effects. After its stint on The CW, Superman and Lois will join Batwoman on the HBO Max streaming service. The network showed their confidence in the show by giving it a second season renewal ahead of the premiere. Superman and Lois the high ratings remained constant in the episodes after the premiere, indicating that the show likely brought new viewers to the network and / or made those who left the Arrowverse return.
The trend of positive ratings continued until Superman and Lois was forced to suspend the broadcast for seven weeks due to production delays caused by the pandemic. As previously cited in this article, upon his return, Superman and Lois saw a drop of over 500,000 viewers from its last pre-hiatus episode of over 1.2 million viewers. It remains to be seen whether the Superman and Lois The drop in ratings signals that the show is starting to follow the same downtrend as other Arrowverse shows, or if that was just an anomaly. With Superman ready to cross with Flash next season, the newcomers to the CW in the Superman and Lois Will audiences be confused when other Arrowverse characters are introduced to a show that spent most of its first season not recognizing its connection to other Arrowverse shows? Or could mini crossovers rekindle fan interest in the Arrowverse by setting the stage for the next epic crossover event?
Arrowverse original shows are getting too old
One of the factors often cited as affecting the Arrowverse’s drop in viewership is the stories the shows tell. After several seasons on the air, Arrowverse shows such as Flash, Super girl, and Legends of tomorrow have bulky and sometimes overcrowded casts. Too many characters make it difficult for the writers to give each one a compelling story to keep viewers interested year after year. As a result, fans who have spent years investing in specific characters might shy away from shows when those characters don’t attract attention.
Another concern that Polygone.com emphasizes is that the focus of the Arrowverse shows is more “about relationships and personal issues” than “save the world from scary monsters and super crawlers. The article goes on to describe the early episodes of Superman & Lois as having a vibe that’s less Action Comics, and more It’s us. Comic book fans looking for beloved characters and storylines from DC history to make an appearance are often disappointed. However, more recent shows such as Star girl are credited (Multiveristycomic.com) as a hit because they feature a more balanced mix of interpersonal drama and classic superhero show battles. Star girl and Superman and Lois have so far been enthusiastically adopted by viewers, indicating audiences want to engage with unexplored characters and new stories. Additionally, Stargirl’s first season consisted of 13 episodes, which required a tighter storyline with less filler. Other Arrowverse shows might benefit from not highlighting their stories and budgets over 20-22 episode seasons. With so many superhero options to choose from, shorter arcs on these Arrowverse The shows could keep viewers more engaged and more likely to tune in early to watch episodes, instead of waiting months to catch up with Netflix or HBO Max.
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