The Black Lightning DC Comics TV show earned The CW its biggest premiere rating in two years. Interest in superhero content has never been bigger, and The CW continues to strike while the iron is hot. Over the last several years, the network has brought four DC shows to the small screen. The formation of the "Arrowverse" - made up of Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, and Supergirl - has given The CW big shows to rely on almost every night of the week. Last night, they debuted their fifth DC TV show Black Lightning, which isn't currently part of the Arrowverse.
Anticipation for Black Lightning was high going into the premiere as it adds more diversity to The CW's lineup, but also thanks to the show's cast and promotional materials. Starring Cress Williams, the Black Lightning promos promised some solid family drama to go along with the slick superhero action. The pilot delivered on the promises of the marketing campaign, and earned some solid ratings for its efforts.
Variety is reporting that Black Lightning debuted last night with ratings high enough to make it The CW's biggest premiere in two years. Sporting a 0.8 rating in the 18-49 demo and 2.3 million viewers, Black Lighting was also on par with Riverdale's noteworthy debut last year. These numbers should only rise once DVR and On Demand views are accounted for.
The fact that Black Lightning can debut on par with Riverdale is quite impressive, and should bode well for the show's longterm future. Both of the aforementioned shows are based on existing IP, and the network is very fond of Riverdale. As long as Black Lightning continues to hold steady (or even improve), it should have no trouble continuing. Once The CW knows it will be around longer, then the conversations about Black Lightning crossing over with the Arrowverse could start up.
Even though the numbers are strong, Black Lightning does come in as the lowest DC launch for The CW. Arrow debuted to a 1.3 demo and 4.02 million viewers back in 2012. The Flash topped that with a 1.8 demo and 4.54 million viewers two years later. Legends of Tomorrow debuted to a 1.3 demo and 3.2 million viewers in 2016, while Supergirl's CW debut for season 2 started off with a 1.1 demo and 3 million viewers. It should be noted that none of these other premieres came in the 9 p.m. slot Black Lightning has, with the others all coming in the prime 8 p.m. slot instead.
Putting the comparisons to other premieres aside, Black Lightning was basically able to match The Flash's ratings last night. If it can continue to keep pace with the fastest man alive, The CW should continue to have a strong double feature of DC content on Tuesday nights.
Black Lightning continues next Tuesday with ‘The Book of Hope’ at 9 p.m. on The CW.