Final Friends watched by 51 million Americans
10:27 08 May 2004
The finale of hit sitcom Friends aired in the US on Thursday night, watched by 51.1 million viewers.
The viewing audience is reported to be the largest since the last episode of Seinfeld in 1998 and preliminary ratings make it the fourth biggest audience ever for an end of series show.
NBC had predicted an audience of around 50 million for the last episode of series ten. However, the audience for the final episode was not the larest Friends audience ever. An episode screened after the Super Bowl in 1996 was seen by 52.9 million viewers.
The Friends finale ranks behind the finales of M*A*S*H in 1983 (106 million viewers), Cheers in 1993 (80.4 million) and Seinfeld in 1998 (76.3 million). Preliminary figures show that more than half the viewing audience in the lucrative 18-to-49-year-old group tuned in to watch the Friends finale.
The show, preceded by one-hour retrospective of the series' six characters over the last ten years, commanded advertising rates averaging $2 million (1.1 million) for 30 seconds.
In New York, the final episode was watched by 3,000 people on a big screen in Times Square.
The finale has received mixed reviews in the US media, with some describing it as too short on gags and too full of goodbyes.
Friends made its debut on US television in 1994 and made households names of its six stars - David Schwimmer (Ross), Jennifer Aniston (Rachel), Matthew Perry (Chandler), Courteney Cox Arquette (Monica), Lisa Kudrow (Phoebe) and Matt LeBlanc (Joey).
Matt LeBlanc will reprise his role as actor Joey Tribbiani in NBC spin-off series, Joey, which starts this autumn in the US.
UK viewers can catch the Friends finale on Channel 4 on May 28th.