‘Roseanne’ a Ratings Romp, But What’s Next?

So Roseanne did a giant number for its premiere on ABC, posting a 5.1 rating among viewers 18-49, and drawing 18.2 million total viewers for the two episodes that aired March 27. The New York Times noted that it was the best performing comedy on a broadcast network since the 2014 season premiere of The Big Bang Theory on CBS.

And that’s on the heels of some major Nielsen numbers for 60 Minutes, when Stormy Daniels discussed her alleged affair with President Trump in a sit-down with Anderson Cooper March 25. That drew 22 million viewers, representing 60 Minutes’ best rating since a 2008 interview with Barack and Michelle Obama, when television viewing, and ratings, were vastly different.

Indeed, the ratings for Roseanne and for 60 Minutes hearken back to an era when no one was watching Netflix or Amazon or Hulu.

Media consultant Bill Carroll credits ABC for doing a “monumental job,” he says, in getting the word out about the show, which originally ran on that network from 1988 to 1997. The ubiquitous promos, many airing during American Idol, appealed to both those who were fans of the original show, and those curious about the political bent of Roseanne, and Roseanne star Roseanne Barr, a supporter of President Trump. (Trump called Barr to congratulate her on the show’s strong start.)

“If you didn’t know the show was back on, you had to be Rip Van Winkle,” says Carroll. “I think ABC did a masterful job promoting the show.”

Carroll said the promos effectively showed a more contemporary feel to the comedy, depicting that it deserved its place in the 2018 pop culture landscape.

The promotion of Roseanne included Barr and co-star John Goodman appearing on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live late last week, Roseanne being named the title sponsor of a NASCAR race, called the “Roseanne 300,” March 17, and the cast appearing on 20/20 February 15.

ABC is on board for nine episodes of Roseanne, which is produced by Carsey-Werner Television.

A New Shine on Old ‘Boots

Rebooting old shows—The X-Files on Fox, Twin Peaks on Showtime, Dynasty on The CW, Murphy Brown on CBS, and many others—has been the story on television for the past year or so. NBC’s redo of Will & Grace, another comedy representing a different socio-political slice of the population than Roseanne, opened to a 3.0 rating in viewers 18-49, and 10 million total viewers, back in September.

The success of Roseanne, at least after week one, means many more reboots will be in the works. “Everybody will go back into their catalogs,” says Carroll. “They’ll ask, who is still alive, and who can we bring back?”

All eyes are now on the next episode of Roseanne, many curious to see if the show suffers the normal ratings hiccup that one sees a week after a premiere.

Carroll, for his part, does not see a big drop coming. “I think it will hold up reasonably well,” he said.

He mentions the Trump phone call as something that helps sustain the buzz. “It gives them more publicity they couldn’t buy,” he says.

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.