03/28

Lessons for Radio from the Roseanne Revival

Well the ratings are in, and the revival of the classic sitcom Roseanne is a huge hit:

The first two episodes of Roseanne, a full hour at the top of the ABC lineup, won the night by both adults 18-49 and total viewers. The show averaged a 5.1 rating in the key demo and 18.1 million viewers, rising from the first half hour to the next. The first number alone is enough to make Roseanne the highest-rated regularly scheduled scripted show of the last few seasons, since Empire at its peak, as well as the highest-rated sitcom broadcast in over three years.

Those are big numbers, folks. And they come for a show that is new only in the sense that it is newer than the episodes that are 20 years old.

So what can broadcasters learn from this?

1. In a time of entertainment clutter – when everything is warring for your attention with everything else – there’s a bonus for what’s familiar and dependable.

Everyone remembers Roseanne. The show dates to an era when most people watched the same hit shows and liked them enough to make them hits.

The more choices you have the more the hits rise above the noise. So what is your Roseanne? Do you have one? If not, why not?

2. Bringing back something you took away can be a big ratings win

Did you fire that critical member of your morning show who is critical only in hindsight? Maybe now’s the time to bring him or her back. America loves reunions.

3. Old news sells itself if it’s new again

From the Hollywood Reporter:

These shows are an easy way to cut through the clutter. They promote themselves, generally inspire initial tune-in and have established cast members to do a lot of the heavy lifting — one reason why ABC was able to pull in $175,000 for 30-second ads.

If you can generate news that makes media outlets and fans talk it about simply because it’s “news” rather than because it’s a message you’re pushing on them, that’s a plus. The return of Roseanne is news!

4. Ask yourself what popular brands from your station’s past or your market’s past deserve a place on your station today

Coming soon to a TV network near you: Likely revivals of Murphy Brown, The Office, and Mad About You. Already revived: One Day at a Time, Will and Grace, Full House, Arrested Development, Queer Eye, Gilmore Girls, etc. And that’s just TV. The movie theaters are fuller than ever of franchises and sequels.

It make big sense to raid the collective memories of your audience to create the future of your brands.

Just as it makes sense to play Bing Crosby at Christmas time.

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