ABC rolled out its highly-anticipated Roseanne revival with a special one-hour, two-episode premiere, that easily become the highest-rated debut of the 2017-2018 TV season. The first episode earned an incredible 4.9 rating in the all-important 18-49 demographic while pulling in 17.7 million viewers overall, while the second episode improved to a 5.3 rating in the 18-49 and 18.6 million viewers overall. When averaged together, the premiere earned a 5.1 18-49 rating and 18.2 million viewers, the highest debut of any program this year, beating CBS' Young Sheldon (3.8 rating, 17.2 million viewers).
This massive debut became the highest-rated Tuesday entertainment telecast in six years, and the highest-rated comedy telecast since the Season 8 premiere of CBS' The Big Bang Theory. It also trounced the debut of another hit revival, NBC's Will and Grace, which was renewed for a second season even before its premiere in September, which pulled in a 3.8 rating in the 18-49 demo and 10.2 million viewers overall. These huge premiere ratings will most likely lead to a swift Season 2 renewal from ABC in the days and/or weeks ahead.
What's perhaps the most impressive about these numbers is Roseanne managed to surpass its numbers from the "series finale" 21 years ago, with audience numbers coming in 10% ahead of the May 1997 finale. The premiere ratings were also higher than the viewership for the final 12 episodes of the final 1996-1997 season. The new series even had a big impact on Tuesday night mainstays like NBC's The Voice, which took in a 1.6 rating and 8.9 million viewers, a big 27% hit from the previous week, to reach a season low. CBS' NCIS also dropped 20% with a 1.3 rating and 11.8 million viewers overall.
There had been rumblings about a Roseanne revival for quite some time, but it was finally confirmed last spring, with ABC issuing an eight-episode order for the revival, which would later be extended to nine episodes, since the network liked what they saw so much. Roseanne Barr and the entire cast returned, including John Goodman, despite the fact that it was revealed in the series finale back in 1997, that his character, Dan Connor, had actually died from the stroke he suffered in the Season 8 finale. The rest of the Connor family also returned such as Sara Gilbert (Darlene Connor), Alicia Goranson (Becky Connor), Michael Fishman (D.J. Connor) and Laurie Metcalf (Jackie Harris), with Sarah Chalke, who played Becky for the final two seasons, returning in a new role.
ABC has yet to issue an official renewal for Roseanne, but given these massive numbers, that may be coming sooner rather than later. It will be interesting to see if the network will order a full 22-episode season, or if they will stick with this smaller season format of eight or nine episodes a season. Deadline broke the news on the Roseanne ratings earlier this morning, and hopefully we'll hear more on a new season renewal soon.