By David Owen

Sid_Crosby_scores_winning_Olympic_goalJanuary 6 - The Vancouver Winter Olympics were one of very few events to challenge the National Football League's (NFL) dominance of a new table outlining the United States's most-viewed sports events of 2010.

A list of the 100 most-viewed sporting events on broadcast television during the 2010 calendar year, published by Sports Media Watch, put NBC's broadcast of the Vancouver Games's Opening Ceremony on February 12 in seventh place with 32.6 million viewers.

This was the highest-ranking event outside the NFL, with Super Bowl XLIV easily topping the list with an audience of 106.5 million.

A total of 18 Olympic broadcasts made the list, with the Canada v USA men's ice-hockey gold-medal match attracting an audience of 27.6 million, a figure exceeded by just 18 other telecasts, and the Closing Ceremony on the same day 21.4 million, putting it in 58th spot.

The FIFA World Cup in South Africa also proved reasonably popular with US audiences, with three matches making the list, headed by the final - Spain v Netherlands - in 40th place with 24.3 million viewers.

No fewer than 65 top-100 places were taken by the NFL, underlining the dominant position of American football in US sports broadcasting.

The list should, nonetheless, provide some encouragement for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as it prepares to auction the vitally important US media rights for the 2014 and 2016 Olympic Games, to be staged in Sochi and Rio de Janeiro respectively.

The process is now expected to get under way soon, having been delayed in the hope that the economy would strengthen.

London 2012 will be the seventh consecutive Olympics shown by NBC, which looks set soon to be taken over by cable operator Comcast.

But London is the last Games NBC won as part of a record $2.2 billion (£1.4 billion) deal with the IOC.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]