Viewers Make Friends in Off-Network Debut

September 22, 1998

The hit television series "Friends" made its off-network debut yesterday averaging an impressive 5.8 rating and 10 share in the 40 metered markets for its special one-hour premiere. (To kick off the syndication launch of "Friends," stations aired a one-hour premiere featuring the full, uncut pilot episode which was edited from 37 minutes to a half-hour when the show premiered on network television in 1994. The one-hour premiere also included highlights from the past four seasons of the series.)

The 5.8/10 represents a +35% improvement in rating over year-ago time periods (4.3) and a +25% gain in share (8). The series also improved its lead-in 4.8/8 by +21%/+25%.

In its primary 5-8 p.m. airings, "Friends" averaged a 6.4/11, up +31%/+22% over September '97 time periods (4.9/9) and improving lead-in by +28%/+22% (5.0/9)

In comparison to other recent high-profile off-net sitcom debuts, "Friends" ranks third, behind "Home Improvement's" 7.8/14 and "Seinfeld's" 6.6/12. However, "Friends" posted better time period year-to-year gains than "Seinfeld," which premiered off-net on September 11, 1995, but only improved the previous year's time periods by +18% in rating and +20% in share (6.6/12 versus 5.6/10); "Mad About You, " which hit the off-net airwaves on September 9, 1996 equaling the previous year's time period share, and improving previous year's rating by only 18% (4.7/8 versus 4.0/8); and "Frasier," which premiered off-net on September 15, 1997 and equaled its previous year's time period share but only improved in rating by +2% (5.6/10 versus 5.5/10).

Despite going head-to-head with ABC's "Monday Night Football" in 25 occurences, "Friends" posted double and triple digit year-to-year time period improvements in several markets including: New York (WPIX-TV at 7:00 p.m. 7.2/12 vs. 5.1/9, +41%/+33%), Los Angeles (KTLA-TV at 7:00 p.m. 8.4/17 vs. 5.9/14, +27%/+22%), Chicago (WGN-TV at 6:00 p.m. 9.5/17 vs. 2.4/5, +296%/+240), Philadelphia (WPHL-TV at 7:00 p.m. 4.0/6 vs. 2.5/5, +60%/+20%),

Boston (WLVI-TV at 7:00 p.m. 5.2/9 vs. 1/9/3. +174%/+200%), Pittsburgh (WCWB-TV at 7:00 p.m. 4.9/8 vs. 2.0/4, +145%/+100%), San Diego (KSWB-TV at 7:00 p.m. 5.4/8 vs. 2.4/4, +125%/+100%) and Salt Lake City (KJZZ-TV at 6:00 p.m. 7.0/13 vs. 2.4/5, +192%/+160%), to name a few."Friends," a Bright/Kauffman/Crane production in association with Warner Bros. Television, is distributed by Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution.

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