Now that “Supergirl” has wrapped up its first season on CBS, executives behind the scenes are apparently locked in a metaphorical staring contest over its future. With no Season 2 having been announced yet, rumors are circulating that the series might have to make a major shift if it wants to continue presenting the adventures of the National City hero.
According to the Wrap, the Melissa Benoist-led series started out with close to 13 million total viewers when it premiered last October. However, about half that audience dropped off by the Season 1 finale on April 18. While this wouldn’t be a huge problem for a network show, thanks to CBS’ deal with Warner Bros. to license the character, it is. Each episode reportedly costs the network some $3 million to broadcast, one of the highest license fees for a brand-new show. One potential solution would be for CBS to move the show to the CW, which is a joint venture between CBS and Warner Bros.
For those who follow superhero TV franchises, “Supergirl” would be a good fit at the CW, which recently renewed its three DC Comics-based shows, “The Flash,” “Arrow” and “Legends of Tomorrow.” In fact, they’re even written and produced by some of the same people. “Supergirl” also hosted a crossover episode in which “The Flash” lead character, Barry Allen (Grant Gustin), arrived from an alternate universe to help stop some baddies in National City.
The move would make sense as it would allow for the show to continue for fans without forcing CBS to pay an exorbitant amount for each airing. The series might even be considered a better fit for the CW, which tends to have a younger audience that’s more interested in superhero drama than those tuning in for reruns of “Criminal Minds.”
However, “Supergirl” would still face a problem if it were to make the shift. Although the CW does well with its superhero shows, it doesn’t offer the large budget that “Supergirl” has had at CBS. As IGN notes, although nothing has been confirmed yet by either network, the CW does not spend a ton of money to produce its shows. This means the likelihood of a “Supergirl” Season 2 that doesn’t include a budget cut is dwindling fast. CBS is expected to announce the fate of “Supergirl” at its upfront presentation in New York City in two weeks, meaning any deal, whether it is a switch or renewal, has to be hammered out soon.
In the event the freshman series does switch networks it wouldn’t be the kiss of death many people assume it is. Numerous popular shows have bounced around the TV landscape with marked success. One prime example is the hit military drama “JAG,” which aired a low-rated first season on NBC before the network pulled the plug in 1996. CBS swooped in and found itself with a show that broke the Nielsen top 20 by Season 3, according to HitFix. It remained a top performer for the network for eight seasons (nine total). “Baywatch” also began as a show canceled by NBC after just one season only to be revived through first-run syndication in 1991.
There is a flip side to this coin, where shows like “Scrubs” get picked up only to breathe their last after one more season elsewhere. The medical dramedy was a top-rated NBC performer that fell hard in the ratings in later seasons. It was revived by ABC, but the network pulled it from its lineup after one season and a failed reboot, which Entertainment Weekly noted was due to poor ratings. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is another noteworthy example, especially due to its similarity to “Supergirl” as a teen-leaning series. After five modestly rated but critically acclaimed seasons on the WB, UPN outbid the network to seize control of “Buffy” and her friends for another two, somewhat controversial, seasons.
However, these were long-running series that were floundering in the ratings prior to their demise. Given the built-in popularity of “Supergirl” following its first season, the millennial audience held by the CW and the series’ crossover potential with other shows, “Supergirl” could find itself in a better position than most to seamlessly make the switch away from CBS. Who knows, if the Flash ever learns how to control the breaches to alternate universes, “Supergirl” could be present as early as next year’s inevitable crossover event without having to sacrifice anything that’s already been built into her canon on CBS.
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