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For anyone who feared or assumed that Roseanne Barr would be facing ratings disappointments in her big return to primetime, let it be known that Roseanne's revival premiere has essentially already cemented its place as one of the most-watched telecasts of 2018. ABC execs are no doubt hopping up and down with glee, as Roseanne brought in over 18 million viewers, which is an even bigger audience than the one that watched that notorious Season 9 finale.
To reiterate, because it most definitely needs to be reiterated at a point when primetime is hemorrhaging viewers, Roseanne's first ABC installment in 21 years was watched by around 18.16 million people. In comparison, new episodes of NBC's The Voice and CBS' NCIS combined for a total of 20.65 million viewers. So in one fell swoop, the blue-collar sitcom managed to take out one of TV's top dramas and one of TV's top reality shows. It's an achievement that few could have predicted with assuredness.
Coupled with that massive viewership total is Roseanne's gobsmacking key demo rating for adults aged 18-49, which is widely considered the most important viewership metric. The ABC sitcom demolished the competition with an intimidating 5.1 demo rating, according to TV By the Numbers. For recent comparisons, The Walking Dead's latest episode earned a 3.0 rating with 6.77 million viewers, while the season finale of the most-watched new show of the season, The Good Doctor, was seen by 9.39 million people, with a 1.6 demo rating. If this keeps up, Roseanne could easily end up being the biggest show of the year, especially if the DVR numbers are anywhere near as solid.
As previously mentioned, Roseanne's latest pair of episodes managed to draw a bigger crowd than the 16.6 million people that tuned in for the double-episode Season 9 finale, in which it was revealed that much of that season wasn't even real. In fact, "Twenty Years to Life" and "Dressed to Impress" reportedly combined for network TV's highest-rated comedy telecast in around four years. Really, the only series to offer comparable competition would be NBC's This Is Us, and the only reason that drama scored higher numbers this year is because it landed the lucrative post-Super Bowl time slot. ABC did wisely premiere Roseanne in the weeks after the NBC mega-hit wrapped its second season, but the sitcom's numbers might inspire more confidence about when to premiere the next season, assuming another gets ordered up.
ABC must also be impressed with how Roseanne's giant audience -- which actually grew in size from the first half-hour to the next -- also boosted the stats for its fellow Tuesday night sitcoms black-ish and new addition Splitting Up Together. The latter earned a 2.6 rating, with 8.71 million tuning in, while the Jenna Fischer-starring divorce comedy's premiere landed a 2.2 demo rating and 7.2 million viewers. That's about as impressive as comedy premieres get these days, at least when they're not returning after a 21-year hiatus.
Roseanne will hopefully keep bringing massive crowds like that every Tuesday night on ABC at 8:00 p.m. ET. Check out how the premiere handled David and Mark's absences, as well as how the two Becky actresses' first scene together went. To see what other revivals and new series will be popping up soon, head to our midseason premiere schedule.