“Friends” beats “Survivor: Africa”

NBC‘s hit sitcom Friends eked ahead of CBS‘ third edition of Survivor, according to ratings figures issued Friday.

Survivor: Africa premiered Thursday with an impressive average audience of 23.8 million viewers. According to Reuters, the debut makes Survivor the second most watched series for the week.

The No. 1 honor went to Friends. The comedy averaged 29.2 million per household and also eclipsed the reality series among viewers aged 18-49, the group most prized by advertisers.

Friends had its hottest start since the opening of its second season in 1995. Thursday’s segment was the last of a three-episode story and focused on Ross (David Schwimmer) finding out he is the father of Rachel’s (Jennifer Aniston) baby.

Survivor: Africa opened with 16 contestants competing for a $1 million in a wild game reserve in Kenya.

Neither shows seemed affected by President Bush’s televised news conference, which created delays in Eastern nor Central time zones.

Last spring, Survivor: The Australian Outback consistently one the ratings race against Friends.