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'Joey' finds new friends on NBC

Matt LeBlanc and Drea de Matteo star in "Joey."
Matt LeBlanc
Entertainment (general)

LOS ANGELES, California (Reuters) -- Actor Matt LeBlanc found millions of new pals as his television show, "Joey," won strong viewership for the NBC network, which hopes the spinoff will help rebuild its Thursday night lineup after the departure of longtime hit "Friends."

NBC said Friday that "Joey," in which LeBlanc reprises his role as lovable actor Joey Tribbiani from "Friends," pulled in 18.6 million viewers overall when it aired in the 8 p.m. time slot of its predecessor.

Among adults 18 to 49 years old, an audience advertisers covet for its spending power and a core target for "Friends," "Joey" was the No. 1 show with a 7.5 rating, compared with the 3.3 for ABC's pregame pro football telecast, NBC said, citing early figures from audience tracker Nielsen Media Research.

Each rating point represents 1.3 million viewers in that age group, according to an NBC spokesman.

"Joey" earned the highest rating in 14 years among 18 to 49 year olds for the premiere night of an 8 p.m. comedy on NBC.

"Friends" was long an anchor of the Thursday night comedy lineup and was a lucrative show for the network.

Following "Joey," which NBC promoted heavily during its coverage of the Athens Olympics, the network also debuted the new season of the Donald Trump reality show, "The Apprentice," which earned a 6.6 rating in the 18-to-49-year-old group and averaged 14.1 million viewers overall.

NBC is a division of the NBC Universal media wing of conglomerate General Electric Co.

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