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90 Million Americans Watch

Sun., July 21, 1996

Atlanta’s big night was the most-watched Opening Ceremony in Olympic history, with an estimated 90 million Americans tuning in to all or part of the five-hour event.

Atlantans watched more than those in any other city, peaking at 12:30 a.m. Saturday when Muhammad Ali lit the Olympic caldron. Eighty percent of all the sets in use in Atlanta were tuned in.

Preliminary Nielsen figures give NBC a 27.2 rating, meaning 27.2 percent of all the TV sets in the United States were tuned in. ABC got a 23.9 rating for the 1984 Los Angeles Opening Ceremony, until now the most-watched opening.

The figures are based on the 33 largest U.S. cities, covering 56 percent of the country.

The ratings for Atlanta’s Opening Ceremony swamped Barcelona’s by 65 percent.

The 90 million viewers put the Atlanta opener on par with recent Super Bowls.

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