It’s ‘Supergirl’ vs. ‘Gotham’ for Ad Dollars This Fall

Supergirl Gotham TV Advertising
Courtesy of CBS/Fox

Superman and Batman aren’t slated to square off until 2016, when Time Warner launches a big movie centered on their fight. Until then, fans might want to check out a different superhero contretemps.

Among a burgeoning slate of programs concerned with superheroes, Madison Avenue expects CBS’ “Supergirl” and Fox’s “Gotham” to duke it out Monday nights this fall for the audience most coveted by advertisers: young people who don’t skip past the commercials. According to a Variety survey of primetime commercial-ratings projections by three big media-buying shops, “Supergirl” is expected to eke out a lead of a mere tenth of a point over the Fox drama in so-called “C3” viewership among audiences between 18 and 49 years of age.

The upshot: “Supergirl” is expected to be the superhero series most likely to land the greatest number of ad-watching viewers in the coming season. “Gotham,” which depicts life in Batman’s hometown in the years before the superhero comes upon the scene, will  give the show a run for its money, however. Below, the TV series slated for the 2015-2016 season based on comic-book or superhero concepts and their projected “C3” ratings among audiences between 18 and 49 (each 18-to-49 ratings point in the 2014-15 TV season was the equivalent of 1.269 million adults):


  • “Supergirl,” Monday, CBS, 8 p.m., 2.46
  • “Gotham,” Monday, Fox, 8 p.m., 2.36
  • “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD,” Tuesday ABC, 9 p.m. , 2.09
  • Marvel’s Agent Carter,” Tuesday, ABC,  9 p.m., 1.89
  • “The Flash,” Tuesday, CW, 8 p.m., 1.48
  • “Heroes Reborn,” Thursday, NBC, 8 p.m., 1.41
  • “Arrow,” Wednesday, CW, 8 p.m., 1.05
  • “I Zombie,” Tuesday, CW, 9 p.m., 0.89

Projections were not available for “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow,” a superhero anthology series slated to debut on CW in 2016.

The battle will not start right away. “Supergirl” won’t be spotted in TV skies until well into the 2015-16 season. CBS will run “The Big Bang Theory” and freshman series “Life in Pieces” in the 8 p.m. hour until CBS completes a multiweek run of NFL football broadcasts on Thursday night. Once the football ends, the two sitcoms will move to Thursdays and “Supergirl” could rise.

Like the superheroes they depict, the series seem able to change the course of mighty rivers. Many TV programs are projected to lose some of their “C3” audience year over year. But the superhero programs are proving to be something of a bright spot in a difficult media landscape. The ad-buyers surveyed by Variety see increases in “C3” viewership for “Gotham,” “SHIELD,” “Agent Carter,” “Flash” and “Arrow,” compared with projections made for the 2014-15 season approximately a year ago.

One thing the superhero dramas are not is invulnerable. “Supergirl” may win more commercial-viewing audiences than “Gotham,” but media buyers expect both shows to be handily defeated in their Monday-night timeslot by NBC’s “The Voice,” which is projected to snare a bigger “C3” viewer pool. And Fox’s reboot of “The X-Files” is seen gaining more “C3” viewers than “Supergirl” among freshman series.