The return of the former top-level ABC show posted a massive Nielsen 18.2 million viewers for one hour -- two episodes that ran back to back -- on Tuesday. It took in a big 5.1 rating among 18-49 viewers.
For sure, just one night. But for many -- including not just big network programming executives but big brand TV advertisers -- one looks up and asks: Is this a trend? Is there anything really going on here -- apart from just some obvious curiosity?
Let's look at some comparisons -- just for fun. Through 26 weeks of the season, ABC is averaging 5.9 million viewers in prime time and a 1.5 rating/6 share among 18-49. That means “Roseanne” pulled in more than three times the current average of the network's other prime-time shows.
We know from a great deal of longtime TV research that these broadcast numbers are destined to drop. But if it remains even 1.5 times above -- or possibly at ABC’s average prime-time stuff -- many would still call it a big win.
This comes after NBC offered a return of “Will & Grace” at the start of the season in September -- which began with a heathy 3.0 rating in 18-49 and 10.2 million viewers. Right now, the show is at a 5.8 million and 1.5 rating among 18-49 viewers -- the second-highest-rated NBC scripted show after “This is Us.” That's still fairly decent.
For the season so far, NBC is averaging a 9.7 million viewers and 2.4 rating/10 share among 18-49 viewers. Much of this is due to having a massive programming tag team this past February -- Super Bowl and the Winter Olympics.
Still, just one night of “Roseanne” is nice. But hardly a long-term trend.
If this doesn't pique your interest, there is this: The only scripted network show this season to outperform “Roseanne” was the post-Super Bowl episode of “This Is Us,” which drew a 9.3 among 18-49 viewers and 26.97 million viewers.
OK, then. Show me more -- like perhaps “Seinfeld”? You know -- the show about nothing.