February 13, 2010 / 9:00 PM / 10 years ago

Games opening ceremony is most watched TV event in Canada

Canadian hockey legend Wayne Gretzky waves after lighting the permanent cauldron during the opening ceremony of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, February 12, 2010. REUTERS/Hans Deryk

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - The Vancouver Olympics opening ceremony on Friday was the most-watched television event ever in Canada, Games organizers said on Saturday.

“It was the most watched TV event in history with over 13 million viewers,” Games spokeswoman Renee Smith-Valade told reporters.

“It is a 29 percent increase from the previous record.”

The previous top rated program was the Olympic gold medal match between winners Canada and the United States at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, with just over 10 million viewers.

On average, 13.3 million Canadians watched the whole three-and-a-half hour ceremony at BC Place.

Airing live across 11 television networks in 11 languages, 23 million viewers, or around two in every three Canadians, tuned in to some part of the ceremony, organizers said.

Vancouver staged the first indoor opening ceremony and tapped Canada’s reserves of world-famous talent, like film actor Donald Sutherland to narrate with his signature deep voice and singers k.d. lang, who sang fellow Canadian Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” Bryan Adams and Nelly Furtado.

Editing by Miles Evans

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