Birds of Prey, the television series based on the DC comic characters and produced by the company responsible for Smallville, debuted strongly on the WB network Wednesday night in the face of stiff competition from NBC's political drama, The West Wing, and ABC's scumfest, The Bachelor. Birds of Prey finished a close third for the hour with a 6.4/9 rating, and did even better with the highly prized 18-49 viewers by grabbing second place. Some industry observers thought that the Wednesday 9pm (Eastern & Pacific) time slot would be too competitive for Birds of Prey given the popularity of NBC's West Wing and the heavily hyped reality series on ABC and CBS (The Great Race).
Birds of Prey's initial ratings would be good for any network, but in the context of the WB, the show's performance is very strong indeed. Compared with the episode of Dawson's Creek that ran in the same timeslot the week before, Birds of Prey's ratings were a full 30% higher. DC's other WB series, Smallville, has also done extremely well in the ratings this year, improving on its strong performance from last year. If Smallville and Birds of Prey continue to garner strong ratings, more series based on DC superheroes will surely follow. And while the connection to sales in pop culture stores is tenuous, the awareness of the characters and the fact that they can be cool in a live action series is all good.