SPOILER ALERT: This story contains details of the The Conners debut last night.
UPDATE, 3:14 PM: For the beginning of The Conners, the final numbers saw a little bit of ratings movement for the spinoff that brought it to a near tie with the end of Roseanne.
Up a tenth from the fast affiliates of this morning, the new-ish sitcom delivered a 2.4/10 among adults 18-49 and 10.6 million viewers. That’s a tenth down in the demo from what the finale of the short-lived Roseanne revival snared in late May and around 20,000 fewer viewers.
The 8 PM “Keep On Truckin'” opener was the top rated show of Tuesday night but the second most watched after the audience of 11.9 million that CBS’ NCIS pulled in during the same time period.
Of course, compared to the blockbuster debut of Roseanne’s tenth season, The Conners was down an unsparing 54% among the 18-49s and 43% in the sets of eyeballs.
Otherwise on the dial, The Flash (0.7/3)and The Voice (1.8/8) were also up a tenth from their earlier ratings while the season premieres of ABC’s black-sh (1.0/5) and Splitting Up Together (0.9/4) were down by the same measure.
PREVIOUSLY, 5:43 AM: Nearly six months after Roseanne ended its initial revival run and the volatile Roseanne Barr crashed the now cancelled show, The Conners premiered last night in hopes of turning tragedy into triumph, or at least solid success.
After months of playing its sitcom cards close to the chest, the John Goodman, Sara Gilbert and Laurie Metcalf led series revealed how Barr’s character died: opioid overdose. With everyone except Barr on-board, the cast and episode also set the stage for how the 10-episode spinoff intends to continue without the franchise’s former leading lady.
With a 7.7/13 in metered market ratings, the early indication is it’s certainly not going to be the same or easy but ABC has some breathing room, at least for now.
While no one really expected The Conners to hit the massive debut that the return of Roseanne had on March 27 after nearly 20 years off the air, the spinoff was barely ahead of the revival’s May 22 finale, at least in the early metrics. That “Knee Deep” finale episode came mere days before Barr’s racist online attack on former Barack Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett, and even by then the already renewed series had seen a double digit decline from the Season 10 opener. Which is to say, the finale was a reasonable benchmark for The Conners to reach.
Down 35% from the Roseanne opener, the debut of The Conners was just 4% better than the mothership series finale in metered market numbers. In fact, despite a massive marketing push, The Conners wasn’t even the highest rated show of Tuesday night. Though The Conners was ahead of This Is Us by 22% in the early numbers, it was the fourth episode of the 16th season of CBS’ NCIS that topped the night with a 8.1/13 in metered market results.
For ABC, the real goal for The Conners seems to be to match or be close to the final season opener of The Middle, which aired on October 3 last year. That Season 9 debut snagged 6.2 million viewers and a 1.6/6 rating among adults 18-49. Looking at the metered markets this morning, that goal looks realistic at this point as the Roseanne Season 10 ender had an audience of 10.6 million and a 2.5/12 rating in the key demo.
When the morning dust settled, The Conners clocked an early 2.3 rating in the 18-49 age bracket and averaged 10.500 million viewers last night. The Conners topped the night in the demo, while CBS’s NCS, (1.2, 11.70M) as expected, was the night’s most watched program (1.2, 11.700M).
The Conners stands as TV’s #1 series debut this season, topping NBC’s Manifest (2.2, 10.4M).
The Conners is also TV’s top “new” comedy debut this season, going back over one year to CBS’ Young Sheldon debut coming out of The Big Bang Theory last September.
The Conners is called a new comedy despite it picking up where ABC’s Roseanne revival left off last year – same set, same cast, same storyline, excepting one important cast member whose character has died of an opioid overdose. It’s complicated.
Among all comedy telecasts so far this season, The Conners premiere trails only CBS’ Big Bang Theory’s premiere on the first Monday of the season.
Following the Connor-clan’s return, ABC Kids are Alright (1.4, 6.576M) debuted with a soft 61% retention, after which black-ish Season 5 starter (1.1, 4.531M) retained 79% of Kids’ crowd. The Season 2 launch of Splitting Up Together (1.0, 3.725M) retained 91% of that lead-in, though its 1.0 demo rating equaled its series’ low.
Against ABC’s Conners /The Kids Are Alright, hour, CBS’s NCIS dropped 2/10th week to week. CBS’ Dick Wolf drama FBI (1.0, 9.39M) held steady in the demo and gained 22K viewers at 9 PM, where it prevailed in overall audience but got trounced in the demo by NBC’s This Is Us (2.2, 8.863M).
ABC’s 10 PM, Rookie (1.0, 5.377M) got off to a meh start, matching its lead-in demo. Total viewer-wise, the new cop drama built significantly on its lead-in, making good on star Nathan Fillion’s May Upfront charm offensive promise “If you don’t know me, that’s all right. I’m probably a really big deal to your mom.”
Rookie took 1/10th out of CBS’s 10 PM NCIS: New Orleans (0.8, 7.38M) which matched its series low. And NBC’ slot-winning New Amsterdam (1.2, 6.38M) took a 12/10th tumble.
Over at Fox, The Gifted (0.6, 1.95M) hit a series low, but Lethal Weapon (0.7, 2.91M) hung on to prior original’s demo. NBC (1.7, 8.02M) won the night in the demo, though The Voice (1.7, 8.82M) slipped 1/10th from previous week’s demo, as did This Is Us. CBS (1.0, 9.48M) was in total viewers, while ABC (1.3, 6.13M) came in No. 1 in the key demo audience bracket. Fox (0.7, 2.43M), followed, then CW (0.5, 1.34M) with demo-dimmed The Flash (0.6, 1.64M) and Black Lightning (0.3, 1.04M)