The early ratings for Tuesday are out, and if the numbers hold steady, CW’s The Flash will have hit an all-time low with 2.71 million viewers and a .9 rating in the 18-49 demographic, coveted by advertisers for its purchasing power. That’s still better than the once mighty Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., however, which seems to have settled into a .8 rating with 2.52 million viewers, even despite the recent addition of Ghost Rider, made popular by the Nicholas Cage movies of the same name.
For context, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. debuted in 2013 with a 4.7 rating and over 12 million viewers, and maintained more than 5 million viewers and a 2.0 rating through the end of the first season. The Flash debuted in 2014 with 4.8 million viewers and a 1.9 rating, beating AoS’s third episode of its second season, which had 4.5 million viewers and a 1.6 rating, and the two shows traded victories for a while after that. By the middle of The Flash’s second season, however, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s third season was frequently dipping below a 1.0 rating, solififying The Flash as the number one superhero show on Tuesday nights.
Both shows had the MLB World Series to contend with this week, which likely drew viewers away from other programs. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. co-showrunners Joss Whedon’s Brother and Joss Whedon’s Brother’s Wife haven’t commented on their newly-cemented second place status amongst comic book related Tuesday primetime dramas, but they’re probably just quietly waiting for iZombie to return so that they have someone to beat again. Neither S.H.I.E.L.D. nor Flash seem in danger of cancellation yet, but give them to the end of this season and they may well get there.
The law of attrition is real, folks, and it doesn’t just affect comic books. Too bad television doesn’t have the luxury of a media-hyped reboot to fall back on every 18 months or so.
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