Arrow was the second most popular Arrowverse series at the time of its cancellation. The CW has confirmed that an abbreviated season 8 will be the end of Arrow, with many viewers believing that Oliver Queen will sacrifice himself to save the Multiverse in this year's "Crisis on Infinite Earths" Arrowverse event.
The announcement is a radical shakeup for the Arrowverse and naturally, it's led to intense speculation among viewers as to just why The CW is pulling the plug on one of its flagship TV programs. A lot of focus has been put on viewing figures; although the first three seasons of Arrow averaged 3 million viewers each episode, things have dropped of since. The latest episode marked just the fourth time Arrow dipped below a million live viewers. This isn't an entirely fair comparison, though, given that viewing habits have changed over the years and fewer people watch the shows live. So just how strong are the Arrowverse brands, and is Arrow really in decline?
According to information provided exclusively to Screen Rant by Parrot Analytics, a data analytics firm who believe they offer the most accurate measure of demand for TV shows, the Arrowverse remains hugely successful. All four series are still among the top 0.03% of TV series in terms of demand in the United States. In order, they are:
- The Flash - the most popular of the Arrowverse series, The Flash is in the top 0.01% of TV shows in the US. Until The Umbrella Academy, it's consistently been the most in-demand superhero show of all.
- Arrow is in second place, although in recent months demand has begun to decline.
- Supergirl is usually in third place, although of late demand has sometimes surpassed Arrow.
- Finally, there's Legends of Tomorrow, which consistently brings up the rear.
Surprisingly, this pattern is maintained across all of the 10 largest consumer markets worldwide, a level of "agreement" that's quite unusual. But the trends over time are rather more revealing.
This graph shows changes in demand in the United States since January 2018, and the trend is clearly visible; all four shows are hugely popular, with demand peaking around the "Elseworlds" Arrowverse event in December, and dropping steeply over Christmas during the mid-season break. What's interesting, though, is that since December demand for Arrow and Supergirl has been roughly equal, with Supergirl occasionally moving into second place. The Flash is clearly now the flagship program, a fact that tallies perfectly with the series' higher viewing figures.
Arrow is still in a strong position though, and that means the cancellation probably isn't just due to changes in demand. There are probably a number of other reasons for Arrow's cancellation; Stephen Amell's contract was always due to end in 2019, the stories have felt as though they were beginning to get a little stale, and DC wanted to launch a new Batwoman TV series. The CW execs have frequently expressed concern over having too many different superhero shows on the network at any one time, so may have been reluctant to green-light another series without a cancellation. All in all, it looks as though the decision was made for strategic reasons; Arrow has been a huge success, and by the time it ends will have run for eight seasons. But the show's time has come.