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Record-setting opening ceremony for NBC

Fireworks ignite over the Olympic Stadium during the Opening Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 28, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Fireworks ignite over the Olympic Stadium during the Opening Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 28, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

NEW YORK (AP) — The Olympics opening ceremony was seen in the U.S. by 40.7 million people, making it the most-watched opening ceremony for a summer or winter Olympics.

The Nielsen company said Saturday that the average viewership topped the previous record of 39.8 million people who watched the opening of the 1996 summer Olympics in Atlanta. The London festivities bucked a tradition that American viewers are generally more interested in these ceremonies when they are on U.S. soil.

The 2008 ceremony in Beijing reached slightly fewer than 36 million people.

Fireworks explode over the stadium at the end of the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Summer Games at the Olympic Stadium in London, Saturday, July 28, 2012. (AP Photo/ Ezra Shaw, Pool)Fireworks explode over the stadium at the end of the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Summer Games at the Olympic Stadium in London, Saturday, July 28, 2012. (AP Photo/ Ezra Shaw, Pool)

The strong ratings came despite — or perhaps because of — complaints about NBC not streaming the ceremony live online.