It would be easy to assume that Will & Grace (given its Hillary-loving protagonists and “Make America Gay Again” props) would play better on the coasts, while Roseanne (whose central character is an unabashed Trump conservative) would dominate in the heartland.
In a market-by-market comparison of premiere ratings for both sitcoms, Roseanne performed better than W&G in major cities like Los Angeles, New York, and Boston and midwestern cities like Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, and Oklahoma. There are a few instances where W&G trumped Roseanne: the NBC sitcom, for example, was way more popular in Providence, Rhode Island, than the Conner Family. It was the same for Boston, Greensboro, and Jacksonville. But Roseanne still had a bigger premiere.
See for yourself. Below is a comparison of the premiere night household ratings in the individual markets metered by Nielsen. (Each household rating point in these metered markets equals about 796,800 households). It’s not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison: W&G debuted at 9 p.m. ET on Sept. 28, 2017 — right in the midst of the fall push. Roseanne, in contrast, is starting late in the season after lots of primetime promotion and press. (Our chart only focuses on the show’s 8:30 p.m. ET performance).
And let’s be clear: both reunions have been major boons to their respective networks. NBC is so pleased with the critically-beloved W&G that it recently gave the show a third-season pickup. Roseanne, in the meantime, not only triumphed on Tuesday with 18.2 million viewers, it built on its May 1997 finale by 10 percent (18.2 million vs. 16.6 million). Critics like ours dug it, too.
W&G (7.8/13) Roseanne (11.6/18)
W&G (9.3/14) Roseanne (12.9/21)
W&G (8.0/13) Roseanne (16.4/28)
W&G (7.1/12) Roseanne (10.8/18)
W&G (5.7/9) Roseanne (12.3/20)
W&G (9.0/14) Roseanne (6.9/11)
W&G (5.3/9) Roseanne (9.8/18)
W&G (5.6/8). Roseanne (13.8/21)
W&G (9.3/15) Roseanne (13.6/20)
W&G (10.3/15) Roseanne (14.6/21)
W&G (6.2/9) Roseanne (6.1/9)
W&G (7.1/11) Roseanne (7.0/10)
W&G (10.3/15) Roseanne (16.6/24)
W&G (6.5/11) Roseanne (16.5/28)
W&G (3.4/5) Roseanne (8.2/15)
W&G (5.5/8) Roseanne (12.5/21)
W&G (5.2/8) Roseanne (16.7/25)
W&G (5.8/9) Roseanne (18.8/27)
W&G (12.1/18) Roseanne (7.2/11)
W&G (7.8/13) Roseanne (11.1/18)
W&G (9.3/15) Roseanne (15.3/23)