ABC says that even if half of the ‘Roseanne’ audience returns for ‘The Conners’ it will be a hit

Tuesday’s premiere of ‘The Conners’ will show how the series will write off Roseanne Barr. ABC/Adam Rose
  • ABC’s “Roseanne” spin-off, “The Conners,” premieres Tuesday night.
  • According to a survey from Morning Consult and The Hollywood Reporter, 60% of people said they’re unlikely to tune into the show without Roseanne Barr.
  • ABC’s executive vice president for programming strategy and scheduling, Andy Kubitz, told Vulture “The Conners” will still be the No. 1 show if they retain at least half of their audience from the “Roseanne” revival.

ABC says it doesn’t need the full “Roseanne” fandom to tune into its spin-off, “The Conners.”

“If we can capture even half of ‘Roseanne’s’ audience from last year, we’ll be the No. 1 new show for the season,” ABC’s executive vice president for programming strategy and scheduling, Andy Kubitz, told Vulture.

The “Roseanne” revival was a breakaway hit for the network in the spring. More than 27.3 million viewers tuned in for its March premiere. Over the course of its eight-episode season, the show consistently brought in over 10 million viewers weekly.

“Roseanne” was abruptly canceled in May after its star, Roseanne Barr, compared former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett to an ape on Twitter. In June, ABC announced the 10-episode “Roseanne” spin-off without Barr.

Kubitz said carrying on the show without Barr was essentially a no-brainer if the network could make it happen. Without Barr, there was the potential to still have the talents of Oscar-nominated Laurie Metcalf, John Goodman, and “The Talk” creator, Sara Gilbert, on screen together.

“I mean, who wouldn’t want to put a show like that on the air?” said Kubitz.

Goodman, Metcalf, and Gilbert will return for “The Conners” along with the rest of the original cast when it airs. They will be joined by several new actors, including Juliette Lewis, who will play David’s (Johnny Galecki) girlfriend.

ABC can almost guarantee a lot of of eyeballs will be tuning in for “The Conners” premiere Tuesday. Longtime fans will want to see how the show writes off Roseanne. Barr said the show will kill her off by opioid overdose.

But once fans learn how Barr was killed off the show, it’s unclear whether they will want to stick around to watch the show. According to a recent survey of over 2,000 people by The Hollywood Reporter, 60% said they are unlikely to tune into “The Conners.”

Regardless of how the show performs, it’s a low-risk move for ABC. If people don’t tune in, then they cancel the spinoff after one season. But if people watch and the cast can pull off a show without the matriarch who made the show a hit, then it’s an easy win.

“The Conners” premieres Tuesday night on ABC at 8 p.m.

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