The long-awaited Friends reunion show has broken viewership records in the UK. NBC’s sitcom about six friends living in New York City came to an end in 2004, after ten seasons. However, despite ending 17 years ago, the phenomenon known as Friends has only grown over the years, particularly thanks it airing on streaming services like Netflix, and clamors for a reunion of all six members have only grown. When HBO Max paid over $400 million to bring Friends to their streaming service in 2019, they looked to finally bring the six cast members back together. Although COVID delayed it by over a year, the unscripted Friends: The Reunion finally aired last month.
Hosted by James Corden, the Friends reunion saw all six cast members reunite on the original set, and it featured nostalgic moments like the actors reading over famous scenes and cameos from celebrity guests like Lady Gaga. It also drew big numbers for the streaming service, as it was reported the Friends reunion was watched by 29% of U.S. streaming households on its first day on HBO Max, only 3% less than Wonder Woman 1984. The reunion also explores how Friends crossed over to audiences around the world to places like the U.K., where its series finale brought in 8.6 million viewers to Channel 4. Unsurprisingly, the UK audience was once again there for their favorite sitcom 17 years later.
In the U.K., Friends: The Reunion was made available on demand at 8 am on Thursday, May 27 by Sky, and also aired at 8 pm on Sky’s entertainment channel, Sky One. According to a report from Sky News, the broadcaster revealed that the Friends special broke records by becoming “the most-watched show on Sky One ever.” Also, with “5.3 million people” watching live, recorded, and downloaded airings, it became Sky’s biggest program “of the last two years,” with Game of Thrones being the biggest.
One of Friends’ most memorable stretch of episodes came when the sitcom traveled to London for Ross’ wedding with Emily, where Ross famously said Rachel instead of Emily and it was fans revealed that Monica and Chandler are romantically linked. So Friends’ legacy in the U.K. is certainly a big one, and considering the hype surrounding the reunion, the U.K. broadcasters likely anticipated big numbers. However, what stands out about the news and really hits home is Friends’ staying power, with the fact it’s nearing records held by a very recent TV juggernaut like Game of Thrones.
Although the historic reunion of Monica, Rachel, Chandler, Ross, Phoebe, and Joey faced some criticism about diversity, it appears the majority of fans enjoyed the nostalgic trip to Central Perk and other landmark Friends places and moments. Even cast members like David Schwimmer and Jennifer Aniston are continuing to post behind-the-scenes photos. It’s clear as day that the desire to see the Friends gang has not gone away.