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VANCOUVER (CP) — Two in three Canadians watched part of Friday’s Olympic opening ceremony, making for record TV ratings according to host broadcaster CTV.
The network said Saturday the 3 1/2-hour show at B.C. Place Stadium drew a record average audience of 13.3 million, erasing the previous record of 10.3 million for the 2002 gold medal hockey game at the Salt Lake City Olympics.
CTV said 23 million viewers, or two in every three Canadians (69 per cent), saw some part of the show, which aired live on 11 networks in English, French and several aboriginal languages.
The ratings system in Canada has changed in recent months, but the consortium said the change did not affect the Vancouver-Salt Lake comparison. The peak viewership came at the moment the Canadian team entered B.C. Place Stadium, when 15.6 million Canadians — nearly half the country — were watching, the group said.
The Olympics are being broadcast by CTV, Canada’s largest private broadcaster, and Rogers Media, a unit of cable TV, cellphone and media giant Rogers Communications Inc.
The two partners paid US$93 million several years ago for the rights to broadcast the Vancouver Games in Canada by outbidding the CBC, which had broadcast the five previous Olympics.
Olympic TV ratings were also strong in the United States, where The Nielsen Co. said an estimated 32.6 million people watched the opening ceremony on NBC, the U.S. rights holder.
That was up 48 per cent from the 22.2 million who watched the first night of the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, Italy.
NBC, which expects to lose money on the Vancouver Olympics, paid US$820 million for the U.S broadcast rights.
“ There is no doubt the recession has had an impact on sales in all avenues, including television,” consortium president Keith Pelley said in a statement provided to The Associated Press on Saturday.
“ We are off to a strong start with record-breaking audiences and look to build on that momentum,” he said. “ We will continue selling right through to the end of the games.”