Barr none: ABC's 'Roseanne' reboot puts up massive ratings

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Among shows that aired in their regular time slot this season, Tuesday's 'Roseanne' is No. 1 with a bullet.
Among shows that aired in their regular time slot this season, Tuesday's 'Roseanne' is No. 1 with a bullet. Credit: ABC/Adam Rose

Broadcast TV's love affair with nostalgia is in no danger of abating, as ABC's revival of "Roseanne" put up the sort of monster ratings that are almost impossible to come by in 2018.

According to preliminary Nielsen data, the one-hour "Roseanne" premiere averaged 18.2 million viewers and a staggering 5.1 in ABC's target demo, which works out to 6.57 million adults 18 to 49. To put those deliveries in context, they mark the highest 18-to-49 turnout for an episode of an ABC comedy since the season four premiere of "Modern Family" scared up 14.4 overall million viewers and a 5.5 in the dollar demo on Sept. 26, 2012.

Season-to-date, "Roseanne" now stands as the second most-watched, highest-rated episode of scripted TV, trailing only the post-Super Bowl LII broadcast of NBC's "This Is Us," which averaged 27 million viewers and a 9.3 rating. Among shows that aired in their regular time slot, "Roseanne" is No. 1 with a bullet, topping the season premiere of CBS's "The Big Bang Theory" (17.7 million viewers, 4.1 adults 18 to 49 rating).

The return of "Roseanne" topped the series' May 20, 1997 finale by 1.6 million viewers, and served up the highest ratings for any TV comedy in three-and-a-half years. The "Roseanne" opener unseated CBS' preview of the freshman sitcom "Young Sheldon" as the season's biggest series premiere; five weeks before taking up residence in its regular Thursday night time slot, the "Big Bang Theory" prequel/spinoff averaged 17.2 million viewers and a 3.8 in the 18-to-49 demo.

When compared to the season's other high-profile reboots, the "Roseanne" premiere eclipsed the rest of the field. For example, NBC's revival of "Will & Grace" bowed Sept. 28 to 10.2 million viewers and a 3.0 in the demo, while ABC's March 11 debut of the new-look "American Idol" drew 10.5 million viewers and a 2.3 rating.

Through week 26 of the 2017-18 broadcast season, the average rating for all primetime series, scripted and otherwise, is a 1.1.

Per data, the most visible brands that bought time in Tuesday night's "Roseanne" were Subway, Pepsi, Ashley HomeStore, Lyrica and Haribo. Media buyers surveyed in the fall said the going rate for a 30-second spot in "Roseanne" during the upfront was around $167,000 a pop. By that measure, the cost of reaching 1,000 adults 18 to 49 during the premiere was a steal at $25.40. Compare Roseanne's CPM to the average cost per thousand for all broadcast TV: $42.90.

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