Winter Olympics 2014 TV schedule: What to watch Friday

The 22nd Winter Olympics officially begin today. More than a billion people are expected to watch the opening ceremony, which airs in the US on NBC tonight.

Alexander Demianchuk/Reuters
Fireworks are seen over the Olympic Park during the rehearsal of the opening ceremony at the Adler district of Sochi, Feb. 1, 2014. Sochi will host the 2014 Winter Olympic Games from February 7 to February 23.

The Sochi Olympics officially get underway today with the opening ceremony. Athletes from 85 countries will march into Fisht Stadium in Olympic Park to kick off the 22nd Winter Games. 

The ceremony will be broadcast in the United States at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time on NBC.

No other athletic competition takes place today. While NBC will stream the rest of the Olympic events live on its website, nbcolympics.com, it will not stream the opening ceremony in real time.

Worldwide viewership for the ceremony is expected to be in the billions: Just over a billion people watched the 2010 opening extravaganza in Vancouver, according to its organizing committee, and the 2008 Beijing event attracted 1.5 billion viewers, according to the International Olympic Committee.

Russian officials have been tight-lipped about what’s in store for viewers during the ceremony, but Russian history and culture, from tzars and Cossacks to snow leopards and Sputnik is expected to be on display

Fisht Stadium, where the ceremony will take place, is designed so spectators have a view of the mountains to the north and the Black Sea to the south. Sochi2014.com describes the stadium as "unique across Russia. For the first time in the construction of a large-scale structure, a translucent polycarbonate roof will be used which will give the building an appearance of snowy peaks, ensuring it sits in harmony with the landscape of the Imeretinskaya Valley and the Caucasus Mountains."   

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