'Roseanne' return after 20 years opens huge on ABC

Posted Wednesday, March 28, 2018 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

While the return of "American Idol" drew a strong 10.5 million overnight viewers two weeks ago, the return of "Roseanne" after 20 years on ABC was far bigger, a resounding hit, bringing in more than 18 million viewers. With DVR usage included later on, it could easily exceed 20 million viewers, a rare watermark for any scripted programming in this day and age.

It was the biggest telecast of any comedic program on any network since "The Big Bang Theory" in 2014. And more people saw the return than the initial series finale in 1997, when far more Americans were watching broadcast TV.

UPDATE: Adding in DVR usage for three days, the show shot up to 25 million viewers, adding 6.6 million to 18.45 million.

The 5.2 rating among 18-49 year olds was also the highest on a Tuesday night in six years, according to an effusive ABC press release. UPDATE: Adding in the DVR usage, the 7.3 18-49 rating is the highest since "American Idol" in 2011.

And it easily beat both "NCIS" on CBS (12 million) and "The Voice" (9 million) on NBC.

RELATED: My 2011 interview with Roseanne Barr. 

The blue-collar sitcom was never subtle and the 2018 version - despite references to Trump and Uber and opioids - still follows the rhythms of a 1990s sitcom. That's either good or bad depending on your point of view.

Critics were mostly positive, averaging a 69 out of 100 on Metacritic. Boston Herald's Mark Perigald lauded "Roseanne's ability to pivot from silly to somber and back again without ever missing a beat" and called the revival "authentic." CNN's Brian Lowry, though, was less effuse: "Like everything else about the show, the politics ... feel more abrasive than clever."

Viewers felt about the same, giving it a 6.5 out of 10 on Metacritic and a more generous 7.6 on the heavier-used imdb.com.

The show did best in Red State markets such as Tulsa, Okl., Cincinnati and Kansas City.


About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
I cover local radio and TV for both the print and online editions. I write a blog on the same topics.Rodney Ho's Radio & TV Talk blog (new) | Recent archiveSports...