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TV Ratings: Sochi's Opening Ceremony Falls Just Shy of Vancouver Olympics

Despite the lengthy U.S. broadcast delay from the Russian event, NBC's coverage nears 32 million in primetime -- a shade below the last Winter Games.

Cold Weather Sports Pregaming - H 2014
AP Images
Olympic Opening Ceremony

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.

PHOTOS: Winter Olympics Kicks Off With White Lights and Icebergs at Opening Ceremony

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.

Early returns have the game posting an overnight rating of 18.5, down 8 percent from Vancouver. And among adults 18-49, the primetime run a 8.6 rating. (Finals saw Vancouver an average a 9.4 rating among adults 18-49.)

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.

Elsewhere, few broadcast networks bothered programming against the ceremony. Fox aired new episodes of Enlisted (0.7 adults) and Raising Hope (0.6 adults), and ABC aired a new 20/20 (1.2 adults). All three were down from their last airings.