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NBC, ''Joey'' win weekly ratings race

NBC, ”Joey” win weekly ratings race. Despite its modest debut, the ”Friends” spinoff leads NBC to victory opposite football and reruns

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Matt LeBlanc, Drea de Matteo, ...
Joey: Kevin Foley

Hey, Joey, how you doin’? Depends on who you ask. Despite months of hype, Matt LeBlanc’s Friends spinoff debuted last Thursday with an audience of 18.6 million, about 2.5 million below what Friends averaged during its final season. Similarly, followup show The Apprentice 2 debuted with 14 million, down 6.6 million from what Donald Trump’s reality show averaged last season. Nonetheless, Joey was the week’s most-watched show, helping to win the Nielsen ratings week for NBC and proving that many viewers think the network’s Thursday programming (Apprentice was No. 4 for the week, and new drama Medical Investigation was No. 8) is still must-see TV.

NBC’s average audience for the week was just 8.9 million viewers, but NBC’s slate of new shows was still a bigger draw than the mostly rerun-driven schedule on CBS (8.4 million) or the football-heavy week on ABC (7.2 million). Fox also had plenty of new shows this week (less than a quarter of its schedule was reruns), but the network averaged just 6.1 million viewers. The WB, whose much-touted Jack & Bobby debuted Sunday with a respectable 4.7 million, averaged 3.1 million for the week, giving the netlet a rare victory over rival UPN (2.4 million).