Adaptations of superhero comics are an ever-growing force in entertainment, with a widening grip that spreads from theaters to television networks to streaming services. Although that’s led to periodic hand-wringing about “superhero fatigue,” The CW has taken its own steps in hopes of staving off audience exhaustion: limiting the number of superhero dramas that air at one time to four.
The network was at the forefront of the genre’s current television popularity when it debuted Arrow in 2012. Since then The CW has added The Flash, Supergirl, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow and, just this month, Black Lighting. However, that Arrowverse programming block hasn’t been bulletproof in the ratings, as Bloomberg notes ratings in the 18-49 demographic have dipped 7.5 percent this season (although numbers are said to be flat with last season when streaming and DVR audiences are taken into account).
Not wishing to press the network’s luck, The CW President Mark Pedowitz won’t air any more than four superhero shows at one time, which helps to explain why Supergirl will go on hiatus next month, making way for the midseason return of Legends of Tomorrow.
That said, however, he doesn’t foresee he current demand for superheroes coming to an end soon. “The audience will tell you when the fatigue has set in,” Pedowitz said. “If you have a quality show or a fun show, the audience will stay with it.”
Rating for Black Lightning, the network’s latest superhero series, seem back up Pedowitz’s beliefs: Its premiere drew 2.31 million viewers.
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