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TV Ratings: 'Roseanne' Revival Skyrockets With Stunning Premiere

The Hollywood Reporter logo The Hollywood Reporter 3/28/2018 Michael O'Connell
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Roseanne returned Tuesday. The ABC sitcom, away from the air for two decades, kicked off its revived run with especially promising returns — dominating every other Big Four telecast of the night.

The first two episodes of Roseanne, a full hour at the top of the ABC lineup, won the night by both adults 18-49 and total viewers. The show averaged a 5.1 rating in the key demo and 18.1 million viewers, rising from the first half hour to the next. The first number alone is easily enough to make Roseanne the highest-rated regularly-scheduled scripted show of the last few seasons, as well as the highest-rated sitcom in recent memory.

That's an incredibly strong start for the sitcom, thus far only committed to nine episodes. The easiest comparison is another revival, NBC's Will & Grace. The other reboot, one that helped jumpstart Roseanne and the current trend, premiered with a 3.0 rating in the key demo and just over 10 million viewers at the start of the season.

ABC made a pretty bold move by having Roseanne go it alone at 8 p.m., without any lead-in. The hour has belonged to sitcoms The Middle and Fresh Off the Boat for the season up until now. Roseanne's brief run picks up next Tuesday, airing single episodes at 8 p.m. for another seven weeks.

Reboots have been a big part of the TV narrative the last year, particularly at the broadcast networks. Will & Grace and Roseanne will be followed by Murphy Brown on CBS during the 2018-19 season, and rumblings of others (The Office, Mad About You) continue. Like Will & Grace, itself renewed through a third season of the new run, Roseanne's comeback was inspired by the current political climate. But unlike Will & Grace, or any other scripted offering on U.S. TV at the moment, Roseanne presents a more varied take on Donald Trump's America.

These shows are an easy way to cut through the clutter. They promote themselves, generally inspire initial tune-in and have established cast members to do a lot of the heavy lifting — one reason why ABC was able to pull in $175,000 for 30-second ads. For now, it seems, it was worth the investment.

Related video: Roseanne Reveals Why Her Character Supports Trump in Show’s Revival (Provided by Inside Edition):

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