News was quick to spread after the debut of 'The Flash' on the CW that it was the highest rated series premiere on The CW, since 'The Vampire Diaries' in 2009, with 4.5 million viewers. That's no surprise, considering the buzz that surrounded the show, starting with Barry Allen's appearance in a two-episode arc on 'The Arrow' last winter. Once the series got the greenlight, you couldn't watch anything on The CW without escaping that bum-buuuum-bum-bum promo of 'The Flash' at least once during every commercial break.
But has the superhero series been able to maintain its velocity since the premiere? After the premiere, the ratings dipped. That's pretty common for a new series, unless it's a genuine phenomenon, like 'Game of Thrones' or 'Lost.' The October 28th episode, "Going Rogue," nabbed only 3.5 million viewers.
Since then, however, 'The Flash' ratings have been on a steady rise. The first episode of the two-night 'Arrow' crossover on December 2nd garnered 4.3 million viewers. Even better, the mid-season finale on December 9th, "The Man in the Yellow Suit," was watched by 4.7 million viewers. Did you catch that? More people tuned in for the winter bye-bye than the premiere.
What does the increase in ratings mean? Well, I have three possible theories. The first theory is that those last two episodes were hyped like crazy, which probably caught the attention of folks who have been on the fence about whether or not to watch 'The Flash.'
The second theory is that the competition was weak on those nights in the 8 p.m. timeslot, with other networks offering holiday specials and re-runs. Sure, Rudolph, 'The Voice' and 'MasterChef Junior' beat 'The Flash' on December 9th, but Barry raced past 'Santa Claus is Coming to Town.'
My third theory, my favorite theory, is that word of mouth is spreading from fanboys to civilians that 'The Flash' has great storytelling, intriguing characters, fun villains and a positive message. I love 'Arrow,' but the darkness of that show probably doesn't appeal to very many shiny happy people. As Detective West recently said to Barry, "I need my Barry Allen," meaning, he needs the optimism and hopefulness Barry always displays.
Heck, there's even plenty of soapy romance to keep girly girlfriends tuning in, not to mention cutie pie Grant Gustin.
Here's hoping that when the series returns in January, the ratings continue on an upward trajectory. I'm not expecting 'The Flash' to ever take the top spot at 8 p.m. on Tuesdays, but I'd like to see the other networks feel the pressure when 'The Flash' starts picking up speed.
Nancy Basile writes about entertainment for Media Medusa. Check our Top 10 Flash Moments in Comic Books.