The cancellation of Roseanne earlier this year in the wake of a controversial tweet from leading lady Roseanne Barr marked the end of a revival that scored huge ratings for ABC. The premiere of the Barr-less spinoff The Conners had the potential to pick up some of those huge ratings, and the first episode has finally aired to give an idea of how the numbers compare. The Conners did well, but it's no Roseanne. Here's why.
The premiere scored a 2.3 rating in the key 18-49 age demographic and was viewed by 10.46 million viewers in Live+Same day calculations. While those numbers were enough to put it on top in ratings (beating NBC's freshman series Manifest by 0.1) and second in overall viewership (behind NCIS on CBS), they still mark a big drop from Roseanne.
The Roseanne premiere back in March 2018 scored a massive rating of 5.2 in the key 18-49 demo and was viewed by 18.44 million people. The numbers for The Conners mark a 56% drop in the ratings and a 43% drop in viewership. The Conners numbers are around the same as those for Roseanne's finale back in May, which won a 2.5 rating and 10.58 million viewers.
Basically, although The Conners didn't perform nearly as well as the short-lived Roseanne revival, ABC still has a lot to brag about with the premiere numbers. In fact, thanks to the fact that Roseanne was technically a revival and not a new series, The Conners is able to break some records with its premiere numbers already.
Yes, with Roseanne disqualified, The Conners ranks as TV's most-watched series debut since ABC's The Good Doctor first hit the airwaves back in September 2017. It can also claim the spot as ABC's most-watched comedy series debut in four years overall and best in three years in the 18-49 demographic.
If that's not enough, the Conners premiere numbers mark a huge bump from the same time slot in October from the 2017-2018 TV season. That slot was previously occupied by The Middle, which premiered its final season with 6.2 million viewers and a 1.6 rating. The Conners improvement marks a bump of 69% in total viewers and 44% in the demographic.
A big question is whether The Conners can hold onto its numbers in a competitive time slot as the season progresses. It's possible that a chunk of the audience really only tuned in to see how the spinoff would handle Roseanne Barr's absence. Although Barr herself spoiled how her character was killed off, there were still a lot of blanks to be filled in.
The premiere certainly did deliver a lot of information, and it was a surprisingly heavy episode, especially given a fair amount of the promotion for the show focused more on the upcoming comedy than the drama stemming from Roseanne Conner's fate. We'll have to wait and see if the ratings and viewership change drastically now that the mystery of how her death would be handled has been solved. It's worth noting that the Conners numbers will likely increase once delayed viewership can be calculated in the coming days.