Sochi: Winter Olympics' Opening Ceremony Viewed by 43 Million Russians

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The glittering event's global audience on Friday topped 3 billion people.

MOSCOW -- The Opening Ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympics was viewed by 43 million Russians, while the global audience of the event was 3 billion people.

According to the local audience counter TNS Russia, 63 percent of the Russian population watched the Opening Ceremony during its live broadcast on Feb. 7 on the state-run Channel One and Rossiya 1 or in reruns, which corresponds to 43 million people.

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The figure is much higher than for the opening ceremonies of the three previous Winter Olympics: Salt Lake City 2002, which was viewed by 23 million Russians, Turin 2006 (22 million) and Vancouver 2010 (10 million).

The live broadcast of the Opening Ceremony was watched by 32.7 percent of the Russian population, which makes it the most popular live sports broadcast in Russia ever. The previous record of 25 percent was held by the Euro 2008 semifinal soccer game between Russia and Spain.

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Meanwhile, the Olympic Committee issued a press release saying that the event's global audience was 3 billion people.

In the U.S., the ceremony's audience was 31.7 million people, the Russian wire service ITAR-TASS reported.

However, despite TV viewers' interest in the Opening Ceremony, Olympic events in Sochi don't attract huge crowds of fans. According to media reports, up to one-third of the stalls at some events remain empty. The organizers have confirmed that Olympic volunteers are sometimes invited to fill empty seats.