''Friends'' finale drives NBC ratings victory. Despite successful ''Survivor'' finale, CBS settles for second place

By Gary Susman
Updated May 12, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT

”Friends” was pretty much unavoidable last week. The series finale was the week’s most watched show, with 52.5 million viewers, while the retrospective that preceded it was No. 2 for the week with 36.9 million, according to Nielsen. Even NBC’s ”Dateline” special devoted to ”Friends” interviews finished in the top 15. So it’s no wonder that NBC won the week, earning a rare Nielsen victory over CBS during the first full week of May ratings sweeps. The Peacock network, which also scored big with a post-”Friends” episode of ”ER” (No. 3, 28.4 million) and the original disaster miniseries ”10.5” (part 2 landed at No. 9 with 19.9 million viewers), averaged 14.9 million viewers for the week.

CBS, which landed three ”Survivor: All-Stars” shows in the top 10 (including Sunday’s two-hour season finale, which scored 24.8 million viewers), finished second for the week, with an average audience of 13.2 million. Fox, which saw ”American Idol” draw about 3 million fewer viewers than usual this week (Tuesday’s episode finished at No. 6 with 22.8 million, Wednesday’s in seventh place with 21.2 million), was the No. 3 network, averaging 8.4 million viewers. ABC, which barely cracked the top 25 with Sunday’s broadcast TV premiere of ”Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” (No. 25, 11.1 million), finished fourth with an average audience of 7.6 million. Among the netlets, the WB outdrew UPN, 3.6 million to 3 million.


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