With the rise of superhero blockbusters and big budget comic book adaptations in Hollywood, the trend has carried over to television -- and arguably no network has embraced the art of shared superhero universes quite as wholeheartedly as The CW. Since the debut of Arrow in 2012, The CW has grown its DC TV universe to include two spinoffs in The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow, in addition to acquiring the CBS transplant Supergirl that made its network debut earlier this fall.
This season marked the first time The CW anchored its lineup with four DC Comics-based series in the 8pm slot from Monday to Thursday, and the network recently doubled down on its shared universe for the Heroes vs Aliens crossover event. Based on the 1980s comic book miniseries, Invasion!, the crossover was briefly introduced on Supergirl, then spanned The Flash, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow during the week of November 28. Now, it seems The CW's superhero-focused lineup has paid off in terms of ratings.
Deadline is reporting The CW's Arrowverse crossover helped the network amass its most-watched week in six years and jumped 20 percent versus the same week last year. Supergirl's episode was the most-watched of the show's season with 3.3 million viewers (and the network's highest rated Monday night among men 18-49 in nearly eight years).
The Flash episode received 4.25 million viewers and was the show's most-watched since season 1's 'The Man in the Yellow Suit' (the episode that followed The Flash's first crossover with Arrow). Meanwhile, Arrow's crossover episode delivered the show's most-watched episode since last year's crossover with 3.55 million viewers. However, Legends of Tomorrow perhaps benefitted most from the crossover, earning its most-watched episode ever with 3.39 million viewers.
Between breaking records for the shows themselves and drawing in plenty of viewers for The CW, it's likely the network will continue these crossover events for as long as the superhero series continue. Of course, whether that leads the shows' writers to craft more cohesive and well-developed villains/narrative arcs for the crossovers remains to be seen. The Heroes vs. Aliens event certainly drew criticsim for relying too much on spectacle and the novelty of the characters appearing together on screen rather than compelling storytelling.
That said, The Flash and Supergirl are planning a smaller two-episode event, with a musical twist, that may be able to offer fans an idea of what smaller scale crossovers could entail -- as well as offer The CW insight into how well a more focused arc draws in viewers and performs in the ratings. Still, no matter where Supergirl, The Flash, Arrow, and Legends lead in their individual seasons, these ratings seem to assure that there will be plenty more crossovers in the future.
Supergirl airs Mondays @8pm on The CW, The Flash in the same time slot on Tuesdays, Arrow on Wednesdays, and Legends of Tomorrow on Thursdays.