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Olympic opening ceremonies a hit

NBC's coverage of the opening ceremony at the Olympic Games on Friday night set records for the network with an overnight rating of 27.2 and a 47 share.

The figures for 33 major markets represent a 65 percent increase from the 1992 opening ceremony in Barcelona when NBC's show produced a 16.5 rating and 32 share.

Each ratings point represents 959,000 homes and a share is the percentage watching a particular program among those televisions turned on at that time.

NBC officials said when the national ratings are in they will almost certainly make Friday night's nearly five-hour show the most-watched opening ceremony in American TV history.

The record was established in 1984 at Los Angeles with a 23.9 rating and a 48 share.

The highest figures Friday night were in the host city of Atlanta which produced a 47.6 and 69 share. New York had a 27.7 and 46 share, Los Angeles a 29.8-53, Chicago 29.2-50 and Washington 29.3-48.

In the days leading up to the opening ceremony, Olympic officials kept saying the worldwide audience for the broadcast would be 3.5-billion. That seemed a bit excessive since the world's population is 5.8-billion and a good portion of that number do not have access to television sets.

The figure, according to the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games, was an estimate based on the number of rights holders and their potential reach.