ABC’s decision to cancel “Roseanne” after star Roseanne Barr made a racist remark on Twitter will cost the broadcast network tens of millions of dollars in advertising revenue, according to multiple estimates.
“Roseanne” was the highest-rated series on broadcast television during its nine-episode revival run, averaging more than 10 million viewers per episode. Pre-production for the revival’s next season, the series’ 11th overall, was already under way when Barr made disparaging remarks about former White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, prompting Disney and ABC executives to cancel one of its most popular prime-time programs.
Barr’s controversial sitcom earned $39.6 million in national advertising revenue since its debut on March 27, according to estimates from tracking service iSpot TV. Ad-tracker Kantar Media estimated the show’s total advertising haul at $45 million this season and projected that the next season could have fetched $60 million more, according to The Wrap.
“It’s not surprising that Disney made the decision; they had no choice,” Brad Adgate, an independent media consultant, told FOX Business. “I am sure they are going to lose some revenue potential from next season, but the fallout from the comment made this an easy decision, especially when you consider the Disney brand.”
Disney shares fell more than 2% in trading Tuesday as the media giant contended with the fallout from the “Roseanne” cancellation and a disappointing box office performance by “Solo: A Star Wars Story.” CEO Bob Iger said the decision to end the show was “the right thing” to do.
Companies that advertised on “Roseanne” included PepsiCo, Netflix, McDonald’s and Microsoft. Standard Media Index, another industry tracking service, estimated that advertisers spent an average of $167,159 per 30-second ad during the show in April, which made “Roseanne” ABC’s most expensive show.
“While TV is recognized as the place to find large, guaranteed and engaged audiences, the dangers of social media impact everyone, as we are seeing today,” Standard Media Index CEO James Fennessy said. “The big networks cannot afford controversies that would alienate viewers and need to move quickly to address issues like this before they take on a life of their own.”