“Friends: The Reunion” was watched by an estimated 29% of U.S. streaming households on May 27, the first day of its release, as measured by TVision, a connected-TV analytics provider. Viewers of the special on HBO Max were 55.4% female, and more than 50% were in the 35-54 age demo.
By comparison, DC’s “Wonder Woman 1984” reached 32% of U.S. streaming households when it bowed on Christmas Day 2020 on HBO Max, per TVision. According to Nielsen, “WW84” was the most-viewed title across U.S. streaming services for Dec. 21-27, 2020, registering nearly 2.3 billion minutes streamed.
The “Friends” homecoming special drew a larger audience than HBO Max’s April 23 debut of “Mortal Kombat,” which TVision estimated reached 16% of streaming homes — although the movie also opened in theaters the same day.
Meanwhile, “WandaVision” on Disney Plus reached 34% of streaming households on Jan. 15 (when the first two episodes of the Marvel series dropped). Among other recent TV premieres, Hulu released the first three episodes of “The Handmaid’s Tale” Season 4 on April 28 and reached 8% of households, per TVision. HBO’s critically acclaimed “Mare of Easttown” starring Kate Winslet had about 1% household reach for its premiere (April 18-19), according to the analytics firm.
“Friends: The Reunion” premiered on the one-year anniversary of WarnerMedia’s launch of HBO Max — after it was delayed multiple times because of COVID-19 production shutdowns. The special was originally set to shoot in February 2020 and was supposed to part of HBO Max’s launch (to promote WarnerMedia reclaiming “Friends” from Netflix). “Friends: The Reunion” finally commenced filming in April 2021.
The special brings together the show’s six stars — Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer — on the classic sitcom’s original soundstage, Stage 24, on the Warner Bros. Studio lot in Burbank. Variety reported last year that each of the six actors would receive at least $2.5 million for the special.
The one-hour, 43-minute special features celeb appearances including Lady Gaga singing “Smelly Cat,” K-pop phenoms BTS, Tom Selleck, Reese Witherspoon and Justin Bieber. “Friends: The Reunion” currently has a 68% critic’s score on Rotten Tomatoes and an 83% audience score.
Note that TVision, like Nielsen, measures viewing only on internet-connected TVs (excluding computers and mobile devices). New York-based TVision measures viewing across all major U.S. subscription and ad-supported streaming video services, including including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Disney Plus, Apple TV Plus, HBO Max, Peacock, Paramount Plus and Discovery Plus. The analytics company tracks viewing of some 25,000 titles by approximately 5,000 U.S. households (comprising 14,000 individuals) on connected TVs.
(Pictured above (l. to r.): Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Matthew Perry, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer and Matt LeBlanc)