American TV viewers flocked to the long-awaited re-boot of sitcom ‘Roseanne’ earlier this week, making the ABC show a runaway ratings success with an estimated 18.1 million viewers switching on.

More than two decades after its lengthy original run ended, actress and comedian Roseanne Barr’s eponymous show returned to the small screen with an hour-long special on Tuesday night (March 27th).

It was an almost unprecedented success, with 10% more viewers tuning in than for the May 1997 original finale of ‘Roseanne’, which had been going since 1988. Given the massive proliferation in channels, platforms and streaming in the 21 years since it ended, that’s a huge success, and one that ABC’s Entertainment president Channing Dungey hailed as proof that broadcast TV wasn’t dead.

Roseanne BarrRoseanne Barr

“I feel optimistic because what this show[s]… is that if you deliver a show that is high-quality, that has strong audience appeal, it will come. In an era where everybody only wants to talk about streaming and not as much about broadcast, it's very satisfying to have one of these connect. It's a win for all of broadcast television,” Dungey told The Hollywood Reporter.

More: Roseanne Barr reveals she’s losing her eyesight [archive]

Green-lighting a second revival series now seems like a fait-accompli for ‘Roseanne’, but Dungey maintained that they weren’t quite there yet. “We are excited about the possibility and the opportunity. We're not ready to pull the trigger in this very moment on this call, but hopefully we'll have some news soon.”

Much has been made of Roseanne Barr’s support of controversial president of Donald Trump, but many will now see the success of ‘Roseanne’ as an indication that modern comedy has not been connecting with great swathes of Middle America – indeed, the numbers show that the substantial majority of Tuesday night’s viewership hailed from that demographic.

“It shows people’s different opinions and how they resolve them,” Barr told reporters at the show’s New York premiere back on Monday. “I saw it happening in all the families I know, so I thought, ‘Well this is, you know, it’s good, hopefully it will get people talking to each other.’”

More: ‘Roseanne’ returns with divorce and death the hot topics