'Friends' vs. 'Survivor' Sequel

updated 04/21/2004 at 12:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/08/1998 12:00AM

Don't look for NBC to roll over and play dead when CBS unleashes "Survivor: The Australian Outback" directly opposite top-rated "Friends" on Thursday nights next month. (The "Survivor" sequel will actually premiere after the Jan. 28 Super Bowl game before it moves to its regular timeslot opposite NBC's "Must-See Thursday" programming.) Making it sound as if the network is taking a lesson from McDonald's marketing strategy, Variety reports that the network plans to dish up "super-size" episodes of "Friends" and a shortened primetime version of "Saturday Night Live" -- with all new sketches -- from 8-9 on Thursdays next month. The four February episodes (including those that will air during the all-important sweeps period) will likely run about four to six minutes longer than a traditional "Friends" episode; with commercials, the show is expected to wind up at around 8:40 rather than 8:30. The special editions of "SNL" will then fill in the gap until 9 p.m. "We're always looking for a fresh, innovative approach to bring viewers to our programming," said Jeff Zucker, NBC's new president for entertainment.

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