The Great TV Battle of 2001 got underway Thursday night and Survivor: The Australian Outback
has taken an early lead. The second episode of CBS's reality phenom featuring Kel
's swan song attracted 29.4 million viewers, compared to 22 million for the expanded Friends
. Despite the loss, NBC's top-rated sitcom held up much better than expected, say insiders. In fact, despite Survivor
and a strong performance by CBS's relocated C.S.I.
, NBC powered by Will & Grace
managed to win the night overall. "I don't begrudge anybody else success as long as we have success," Jeff Zucker
, NBC's entertainment president, told The Associated Press
. "The institution of must-see TV survives. We still own Thursday night." CBS President Leslie Moonves
, meanwhile, says that when it comes to declaring a winner, there's no contest. "Trust me when I tell you this, the people at CBS are happier today than the people at NBC," Moonves said. "When was the last time we even showed up on Thursday night?"