Two-hour finale averages 27.26 million viewers

HOLLYWOOD — It’s not quite the cultural phenomenon it once was, but “Survivor” wrapped its third edition a winner Thursday night on CBS.

The two-hour finale of “Survivor: Africa,” which saw 27-year-old professional soccer player Ethan Zohn take the $1 million prize, averaged 27.26 million viewers, according to Nielsen. That’s a 25% dropoff from the finale of “Survivor: The Australian Outback” last May (36.4 million) and 47% lower than the conclusion to the original edition of “Survivor” (51.7 million) in August 2000.

Although “Africa” lacked the intrigue and personalities of the previous editions, its finale still pulled in a big enough crowd to rank as the most-watched episode of any CBS series this season. It teamed with a “Survivor: Africa Reunion” show at 10 to give the net a nightly victory in viewers (24.5 million), adults 25-54 (11.3/24) and most male demos.

NBC’s “Friends” (25.53m, 12.8/30 in 18-49) scored an across-the-board victory at 8, but “Survivor” ended up winning its two-hour block (8-10 p.m.) in total viewers, adults 18-49 (11.3/25) and adults 25-54 (12.3/25). By its final half-hour, “Survivor” topped the combined NBC-ABC-Fox competish in viewers (30.94m vs. 28.76m), adults 18-49 (13.1 vs. 12.6) and adults 25-54 (14.0 vs. 12.8).

With its regular sked, NBC won the night in adults 18-49 (11.0/25) and all female demos thanks to a victory at 10 for “ER” (25.42m, 12.7/29 in 18-49) over the “Reunion” show (19.05m, 8.7/20).

The fourth edition of the reality adventure series is set to begin Feb. 28. “Survivor: Marquesas” takes place on the mystical island of Nuku Hiva, a distant neighbor of Tahiti in the South Pacific.

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