By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated May 28, 1998 12:00 AM
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In Thursday night’s TV battle of the giants — CBS’s “Survivor: The Australian Outback” vs. NBC’s “Friends” — the reality series managed to pull off a slight victory over the so-called “super size” (40 minute) version of the sitcom, according to overnight rating figures released by Nielsen on Friday. Between 8 and 8:30 p.m., “Outback” earned a 17.1 rating and a 25 audience share, while “Friends” scored a 16.6 rating and 24 audience share (which basically are its usual numbers). During the second half hour, “Outback” had a rating of 19.8 and a 28 share. The final 10 minutes of “Friends” increased to a 17.4 rating and 24 share, and a 20-minute “Saturday Night Live” special had a 13.7 rating and 19 share. Meanwhile, the XFL’s TV debut Saturday on NBC drew impressive preliminary ratings for the Las Vegas Outlaws against the New York/New Jersey Hitmen (the Outlaws took it 19-0). An average of 10.3% of TV households tuned in at any given moment to the football reality program, giving NBC a prime-time victory over the other networks. That rating, based on the 49 biggest TV markets (each preliminary point represents roughly 675,000 TV homes) is more than double what advertisers were told to expect, reports the Associated Press. “As long as (the rating is) somewhere between 3, 4, 5, we’re gold,” World Wrestling Federation mogul Vince McMahon, who launched the XFL, told the news service.