The revival's Tuesday premiere earned a mind-boggling 5.1 rating in the 18-49 demographic and over 18 million viewers, according to TV by the Numbers, which makes it the biggest premiere of the 2017-18 broadcast season and one of the biggest non-sports or news shows on TV.
More people watched it than watched the original series finale in 1997, which was seen by 16.6 million people on initial broadcast — and that was before ratings eroded in the streaming and DVR era. So after time-shifting gets factored in, the final number of Roseanne premiere watchers is going to be well over 20 million at a time when very little cracks 20 million viewers.
Revival ratings are usually high, but Roseanne tops them all. Will & Grace's return last year earned a 3.0 rating and 10.2 million viewers, and added another five million or so in delayed viewing, while The X-Files' first return in 2016 netted a 6.1 rating and 16.2 million viewers and ended up at 21.5 million viewers after delayed viewing. (Although The X-Files ratings slipped to a 2.4 and 7 million by the end of the revival's first season.)
According to Variety, the only scripted show to draw bigger numbers than Roseanne this season was the post-Super Bowl episode of This Is Us, which earned a 9.3 rating and 26.97 million viewers. TheWrap shared further historical context for just how big this premiere is, noting that it's ABC's most-watched episode of a scripted show since a Desperate Housewives premiere in 2008.
It will be a challenge for Roseanne to keep the numbers that high for the whole nine-episode run, but after a night like that, the revival will almost certainly get a second season if the cast decides they're up for it.
Roseanne airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on ABC.