Television nowadays is in an era of reboots and revivals, and ABC recently premiered the Roseanne revival. The revival premiere scored massive ratings for the network, and even one star was shocked by how many people tuned in to see what the Conner family is up to in 2018. Unsurprisingly, Roseanne was renewed for a second revival season shortly after the ratings came in. Now, co-showrunner Bruce Helford has spoken out about what the massive ratings could mean for the future of broadcast television, saying this:
I was surprised by the number of young people watching it -- 7.3 [in the coveted adults 18-49 demo]. I was glad to see that 'Oh, networks can't possibly beat cable and raise those kinds of numbers again' is not necessarily the case. I believe that the audience will find a good show wherever it is, which is surprising to say about broadcast because it used to be what people used to say about cable.
Broadcast television in recent years doesn't generally win the same viewership and ratings as it once did, and popular attention has shifted largely to cable and premium cable shows like The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones. The big winners at TV awards events lately rarely honor shows and/or actors from broadcast TV shows, and some in the entertainment biz have felt that the era of broadcast television is coming to an end. According to Bruce Helford, the 7.3 rating in the 18-49 demographic is a sign that audiences will still tune in to broadcast networks if the shows are good enough and have enough popular appeal.
It is somewhat surprising that Roseanne's revival premiere performed so well in the key 18-49 demographic. A decent chunk of that demo wasn't even born when Roseanne first hit the airwaves in 1988 or even went it went off the airwaves for the first time in 1997. Nostalgia wouldn't have been a factor for a lot of the people in the demographic, and surely not that many people would have gotten hooked on the series via streaming! Maybe Bruce Helford is on to something in his comments to THR. For whatever reason, the Roseanne premiere was a hit in the essential demographic, and the renewal was not a huge surprise. It should be interesting to see how the ratings for future episodes are different from the premiere.
There's been plenty of buzz that could have attracted new people to give the show a try, and even the president is talking about it. That said, not all of that buzz has been positive, and perhaps viewers were only curious enough to check out the revival but not curious enough to tune in every week. The show almost certainly will not break ratings records every week. We'll have to wait and see what happens for the future of Roseanne and broadcast TV.
Tune in to ABC on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET to catch new episodes of Roseanne. If you're still in the market for other shows to watch now and in the not-too-distant future, swing by our midseason TV premiere guide and our summer TV premiere schedule. If streaming is more your style, we have a handy Netflix premiere list and Amazon Prime rundown.