Up, Up and Away! Supergirl Debuts as Fall’s Highest-Rated New Series

Ties Blindspot among adults 18-49

Headshot of Jason Lynch

Supergirl, CBS' entry into the crowded superhero genre, had a successful liftoff last night with audiences. Monday's premiere drew the largest audience of any new fall show in total viewers (12.9 million) and tied for the most-watched among 18- to 49-year-olds (a 3.1 rating).

That equaled NBC's Blindspot, which premiered to a 3.1 rating last month (and 10.6 million viewers) as fall's most watched new series in the demo. (Update: Supergirl's 3.2 rating in the Nielsen overnights initially gave it the lead over Blindspot, but that figure was adjusted down to 3.1 in the final national ratings.) Both shows are executive produced by Greg Berlanti, who also has three other shows on the schedule—Arrow and The Flash on The CW, and NBC's The Mysteries of Laura—with a fourth due at midseason, D.C.'s Legends of Tomorrow, on The CW.

Supergirl's 3.1 rating more than doubled its comic book competition, Gotham. That Fox series, which like Supergirl is based on DC Comics characters, had a 1.5 rating in 18-49 last night. 

In addition to marketing the show heavily, CBS gave Supergirl its best possible chance for success by airing the premiere after an episode of The Big Bang Theory, the network's highest-rated series. That drew a 4.2 rating in 18-49 last night, and 15.9 million viewers.

Supergirl's true test will come next week, when The Big Bang Theory relocates to Thursdays, now that CBS has wrapped its Thursday Night Football coverage for the season. Supergirl will air at its usual 8 p.m. time, marking the first time since 1949 that CBS won't program comedies on Monday night.

The show's late debut this fall was part of CBS's plan to focus on launching new shows Life in Pieces, Code Black, and Limitless in September, and then shift marketing resources to Supergirl a month later. CBS had planned to launch a fifth series, comedy Angel From Hell, on Nov. 5. But it decided two weeks ago to push that show, starring Jane Lynch, to midseason.

Supergirl provides a much-needed ratings lift to a soft fall with few runaway hits, though five shows have been picked up for a full season: Blindspot, Limitless, Fox's Rosewood, and ABC's Quantico and Dr. Ken. (If Supergirl's numbers remain strong, its pickup should follow shortly.) Update: Fox added a sixth show to the list Tuesday afternoon, giving The Grinder a full-season pickup.

The networks surprisingly have yet to cancel any freshman series, though they have reduced the episode orders of the four lowest rated shows: Minority Report (Fox), Blood and Oil (ABC), The Player (NBC) and Truth Be Told (NBC). But as of now, all of them remain on the schedule. 

@jasonlynch jason.lynch@adweek.com Jason Lynch is TV/Media Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.