Seinfeld And Friends Were On The Same Network In The Same Era, But There Wasn't Any Competition

When we look back on the most influential sitcoms in history, "Friends" and "Seinfeld" are in a seemingly endless rotation for the top spot. Both shows aired on NBC, and were often compared to one another for the shared setting of New York City, and the ensemble cast of stars. "Seinfeld" came first, debuting in July of 1989 and running for nine seasons. "Friends" arrived a little bit later, premiering in 1994 and lasting a full decade. This meant that for five years, two of the biggest sitcoms of all time were airing at the same time, on the same network, and for some seasons, on a back to back schedule. Thinking about both shows existing back to back seems unheard of in our current era, where film studios meticulously plan out releases to not compete with their own projects and risk splitting their audiences.

NBC managed to capture lightning in a bottle twice with "Seinfeld" and "Friends," and managed to do so without either show ever suffering due to the existence of the other. In an interview in The Daily Beast, "Friends" star Lisa Kudrow opened up about the start of the series, and how if anything, "Seinfeld" only helped the "Friends" find success.

"Not to take anything away from the writing on 'Friends,' or the cast, or how good 'Friends' really was, but the first season our ratings were just fine," she said.

"Friends" debuted in September, but the show picked up popularity that following summer, when it played after reruns of "Seinfeld."

'You're welcome' - Jerry Seinfeld

As important as a show's time slot is to develop an audience, the lead-in program may be just as important. Lord knows I've watched way, way too many episodes of "Chrisley Knows Best" because it played after "Monday Night Raw" and I was too lazy to change the channel. It sounds like a lot of fans of "Seinfeld" became fans of "Friends" for the same reason, and according to Lisa Kudrow, Jerry Seinfeld was well aware of his show's influence.

I remember going to some party and Jerry Seinfeld was there, and I said, "Hi," and he said, "You're welcome." I said, "Why, thank you... what?" And he said, "You're on after us in the summer, and you're welcome." And I said, "That's exactly right. Thank you."

"Friends" went on to become a worldwide phenomenon, with fans in China even using the show as a tool to learn how to speak English. The cast reunited last year for a special event to celebrate the first anniversary of HBO Max's launch, and plenty of fans still spend their free time binging all 10 seasons over ... and over again.