LANFORD, ILL: The ratings success of Roseanne, the blue-collar sitcom starting Roseanne Barr revived after 20 years, is partly due to a decision to stick with broadcast television which has ensured the greatest possible reach.
The ABC show currently sits top in Nielsen’s most current ratings, averaging 19 million viewers over eight of its nine episodes, and in second spot in the 18-49 demographic with a 5.4 rating.
But when the idea of a revival was first mooted in early 2017, there was talk of it being shown on Netflix.
“Every fiber of my being wanted to resist Roseanne going to Netflix,” Ben Sherwood, co-chairman of Disney Media Networks and president of Disney-ABC Television Group, told Adweek.
“I said, ‘Roseanne belongs at eight o’clock on Tuesday night on ABC, with the full force of the ABC television network behind it’. While all kinds of changes are taking place throughout our industry, one thing remains true: Broadcast is still the only way into 125 million homes.”
And that was also crucial for the show’s producer and one of its stars. Sara Gilbert, who plays Roseanne’s daughter Darlene, explained: “We wanted to have a place that all viewers could watch us, because our show is supposed to appeal to everyone, and not everyone has the means to have a streaming service.”
The series has been recommissioned for a longer 13-episode run in the fall, when the topics are expected to move away from the overtly political (the first episode of the new series featured a family split over Donald Trump’s election) to more everyday concerns facing working class Americans.
“The show is definitely holding up a mirror to a segment of the audience that has not felt well represented on television,” added ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey.
She noted that Roseanne’s success has prompted other networks to look backwards to revive older shows, including CBS with Murphy Brown and Fox with Last Man Standing.
Sourced from Adweek, Variety; additional content by WARC staff