It’s rare that a show—especially one that earned the honor of being a network’s top-performing new series—would jump ship, or rather, get tossed overboard. But that’s exactly what’s happened to the Greg Berlanti DC hit Supergirl.
The popular female-led superhero series, which premiered last fall on CBS, follows Clark Kent’s cousin, Kara Danvers, from her origins to suit-wearing status. Premiering to a strong showing of 12.95 million viewers overall and 3.1 rating/10 share in the adults 18-49 demographic, the show managed to average around a 2.5 rating (including seven-day DVR data) over the course of its first season.
In short, the series performed marginally well for a new series on a network that was a questionable fit. It seems, though, that CBS has opted to hand the series over to its more tonally appropriate sister network, The CW. There, it will join the rest of Berlanti’s DC television universe shows, including The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and Arrow.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the decision to move the series instead of simply renewing it at CBS was a result of its high production and licensing costs in comparison to the show’s middling ratings performance on the top-rated network. CBS had already announced the comic series’ production would be moving to Vancouver from Los Angeles to help reduce spending. Now they’ve given up the property all together, signaling that Supergirl wasn’t quite the super hit CBS was looking for.
Warner Bros. Studios produces the show and clearly wasn’t ready to let it go, most likely shopping it around long before we were aware of Supergirl’s potential cancellation status. But ultimately it landed at a network both CBS Studios and Warner Bros. share—and the home to TV’s largest superhero slate. In short, that’s the next best thing to a renewal straight from CBS.
The move will be an interesting one, to say the least. The acquisition of one of TV’s highest-rated dramas is a positive for a network struggling to keep up with cable competitor ratings, let alone the viewership of the big four. Still, it’s unclear whether the show’s entire audience will follow it, and if The CW can sustain the high ratings share Supergirl was earning at CBS. And of course, we may see a reduction in production quality, simply because The CW’s network budget is not nearly as big as CBS’. Not to mention The CW—which had a total of five series in its ten-hour programming block kill off women this season—is’n’t necessarily a leader in female-oriented programming.
Still, the young-ish network knows how to deliver a good comic adaptation (it has essentially made Barry Allen a household name again). And although some fans would rather see fewer crossover events in the near future (never thought we’d say that), the unification of DC’s TV universe gives it a significant creative and continuity edge over Marvel’s television universe, which essentially just came crashing down after ABC canceled Agent Carter after two seasons and opted not to pick up Marvel’s Most Wanted, leaving Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as their only TV property on broadcast or cable.
Supergirl’s move might not be ideal or expected, but it ensures The CW a hit, fans the return of their favorite show, and CBS’ quiet cutting of their losses.