'Roseanne' Really Overperformed in Middle America

The ABC comedy's return dominated in all of TV's top markets, but it was highest-rated in....Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Courtesy of Adam Rose/ABC
'Roseanne'

Roseanne's return to ABC was a hit across the U.S. on Tuesday night, but, perhaps not so shocking for the comedic treatise on life in a flyover state, New York and Los Angeles were not the markets where the show was the most dominant.

According to Nielsen Media's metered-market ratings, which show tune-in by households in 56 of America's biggest metropolitan areas, Roseanne scored the highest in...Tulsa, Oklahoma. The country's No. 62 market, with just over 500,000 TV-watching households, outperformed the national average by 60 percent with an average 19.0 overnight rating. The market with the highest percentage of TV-watching households tuned into the show was also in the Central Time Zone. An impressive 29 percent of Kansas City's Tuesday TV audience was watching Roseanne.

Across all of Nielsen's metered markets, the show averaged a robust 11.9 rating among households and 20 percent share of the audience. Other overperforming markets include Cincinnati (No. 2), Pittsburgh (No. 4) and Chicago (No. 5). The latter, TV's No. 3 market with nearly 3.5 million TV-watching households, helped Roseanne considerably. (The iconic sitcom is set in Illinois, so read into that what you will.)

Roseanne was pitched as a timely revival, one that put star Roseanne Barr's support for President Donald Trump in the narrative at a time when most scripted TV is decidedly liberal-skewing. Barr and the show's creative team have been keen to emphasize the new run won't keep its focus on politics, but any defense of the current administration, however fleeting in the first of two back-to-back episodes, is a rare broadcast TV ovation to some oft-ignored viewers.

None of that is to say Roseanne brought in its massive 18.1 million viewers and enviable 5.1 rating among adults 18-49 without some help from TV's top two markets. New York narrowly bested the national average for the show with a 12.8 rating among households and a 21 percent share. And in Los Angeles, numbers came in just shy of the national average with a 11.4 rating and an 18 percent share.

Roseanne's thrall in red states was hardly the rule. The show performed worst on ABC's North Carolina affiliate, WXLV, where a mere 9 percent of households tuned in. It narrowly underperformed in a noticeably weak showing in San Francisco.

ABC is clearly keen to get even more viewers to tune into the show. Ahead of likely significant digital and time-shifting lifts, the network announced it will rebroadcast Tuesday's episodes on Sunday night before American Idol.

Roseanne's 10 highest-rated markets
1. Tulsa, Oklahoma
2. Cincinnati, Ohio
3. Kansas City, Missouri
4. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
5. Chicago, Illinois
6. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
7. Detroit, Michigan
8. Buffalo, New York
9. St. Louis, Missouri
10. Indianapolis, Indiana

Roseanne's 10 lowest-rated markets
1. Greensboro, North Carolina
2. San Francisco, California
3. Jacksonville, Florida
4. Miami, Florida
5. New Orleans, Louisiana
6. Providence, Rhode Island
7. Salt Lake City, Utah
8. Memphis, Tennessee
9. San Diego, California
10. Baltimore, Maryland