2 billion watch Olympics opener

Almost a third of Earth's population tunes in

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BEIJING -- Two billion television viewers, almost a third of the people on Earth, watched the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony Friday, the Nielsen Co. said Thursday.

Citing TV audience data collected from 38 markets, more than five in 10 viewers in Asia watched the four-hour event, including 44% of the viewers in South Korea, host of the 1988 Seoul Games.

In Asia, only China topped South Korea, with 63% of the audience tuning in, according to data released Sunday by Nielsen's China partner AGB Nielsen Media Research.

After Asia, Nielsen said that the viewer percentage was highest in Europe (30%) and North America (24%).

Greece, host of the 2004 Athens Games, saw 44% of viewers tune in, while 2000 Sydney Games host Australia saw 43% of its viewers watch the ceremony.

The Nielsen Co. is the parent company of The Hollywood Reporter.