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Fourth-Place Medal

NBC's Sochi opening ceremony broadcast reaches 31.7 million, just shy of Vancouver mark

Sochi opening ceremony
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Fireworks are seen over the Olympic Park at the end of the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, February 7, 2014. (REUTERS/Marko Djurica)

 

Friday's opening ceremony of the Sochi Olympics was full of spectacle and wonder, from the best and worst outfits for each participant nation to a history of Russia that sadly did not include any references to "Police Academy: Mission to Moscow." Nevertheless, it was all pretty fascinating to watch.

Not surprisingly, the broadcast fetched some fantastic ratings for NBC. Unfortunately for the network, they did not top the ratings from the opening ceremony in Vancouver four years ago. From Michael O'Connell for The Hollywood Reporter:

Friday night brought the official start to the 2014 Winter Olympic Games with the 31.7 million viewers tuning into the Opening Ceremony during primetime (8 - 11 p.m.), according to Fast National returns.

Though final ratings will see some adjustment, that's within 1 million of the last Winter Opening Ceremony in Vancouver -- which saw final returns bring an average 32.6 million viewers to the game. [...]

Those games, in 2010, had the benefit of taking place in the Pacific Time Zone and airing live on the east coast. The lack of a delay in most of the U.S. limited online streaming of the event, which will no doubt come into play over the next two weeks.

The record for Winter Olympics openers is still those juggernaut Lillehammer Games in 1994. Riding the wave of a media frenzy over skater Tonya Harding's ex-husband clubbing U.S. team favorite Nancy Kerrigan the month before, a 33.8 million viewers tuned into the stateside broadcast.

[Photos: Best and worst dressed of Opening Ceremony]

It's unclear if ratings dipped for any reason besides the lack of a live primetime slot and the increase in alternate viewing options over the past few years, but it figures that knowledge that NBC would cut some material from the broadcast (but not a mechanical snowflake ring malfunction) may have compelled people not to watch on Friday night. Of course, maybe viewers should be thanking NBC for not exposing them to that scary bear mascot.

Regardless of the ratings for Friday's broadcast, the Winter Olympics figure to be a revenue bonanza for NBC. Plus, it gives them a great chance to force-feed advertisements for their own shows. Are you guys excited for "About A Boy" yet?!

More Winter Olympics coverage on Yahoo Sports:

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Eric Freeman is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at efreeman_ysports@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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