Here’s How Viewers Reacted to ‘The Conners’ and Who Was Watching

On Tuesday night ABC premiered its much-anticipated Roseanne spin-off, The Conners. Even if you haven’t watched it yet, you still almost certainly heard about how the show explained away the disappearance of the matriarch of the Conners clan (played by Roseanne Barr, who was booted off of ABC after a racist tweet). But if you’re none the wiser, then fair warning: spoilers below.

To take a look at viewer reaction and behavior surrounding the show, and to find out which advertisers are backing The Conners, B&C worked with data companies, Canvs and Inscape.

Insights from emotion measurement AI company Canvs show that although Roseanne Barr didn’t actually appear in the premiere episode, her character was the biggest driver of viewer Emotional Reactions (ERs) on social media. In fact, “roseanne” was mentioned even more than the show’s name when it came to ERs. And the third most-mentioned topic was “killed” — predictably, people had a lot to say about how ABC handled the off-screen death of her character, with fans expressing both positive and negative thoughts about her opioid overdose.

Related: Media Buyers Welcome Reunion with ABC’s ‘The Conners’

Looking at the emotional breakdown of ERs (including retweets), “dislike” is the most-often expressed emotion, but it’s primarily driven by a single tweet that was heavily retweeted:


(The tweet doesn’t specifically use the word “dislike,” but Canvs AI picked up on the dislike of the show as expressed in this tweet.)

Taking retweets out of the mix (so looking at the emotion breakdown for original tweets only), love wins — and either way you slice it, Roseanne was the biggest driver of emotion.

According to advertising analytics firm, brands spent an estimated $2.6 million on spots during the premiere, generating 97.3 million TV ad impressions. Google (promoting its new Pixel 3) led the way in big budgets, followed by TBS, Pepsi, Samsung Mobile and Cheerios. It’s worth noting that Samsung Mobile and Diet Pepsi were two of the top five spending brands for the last season of Roseanne which aired this past spring — and now they’re back to try their luck with this spinoff.

Viewership data from Inscape, the TV measurement company with glass-level data from a panel of more than 9 million smart TVs and devices, shows that while only 12% of the households that watched the Roseanne reboot earlier this year tuned into The Conners, a whopping 63% of Conners viewers had watched Roseanne.

When it comes to viewer location, there’s a similar spread between Roseanne-watching households and those that tuned into The Conners. (On the heatmaps below, the darker the color in the graphic, the more households were tuning in.)