Live Earth ratings on cool side

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NEW YORK -- NBC's three-hour Live Earth primetime special, which included highlights from Saturday's global concerts, failed to generate much enthusiasm in the ratings.

The estimated 2.7 million viewers were slightly less than the 3 million NBC would average on a normal Saturday night in the summer with repeats on what already is the least-popular night of television.

It was less successful than what MSN experienced online for Live Earth. MSN said Monday that more than 8 million users streamed 15.4 million videos of Live Earth on MSN live. That's ahead of the 5 million people who watched 2005's Live 8 concert via AOL.

Ratings for individual cable networks weren't available until today, but Nielsen Media Research said Monday that 19 million people tuned in to at least six minutes of the telecasts on NBC, Bravo, Sundance or the other NBC Universal channels that were involved in Sunday's telecast.

NBC's telecast performed below the Live 8 concert two years ago, according to preliminary estimates by Nielsen Media Research.

The three-hour concert special from Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., drew a 0.9 rating/3 share in adults 18-49 -- the same as a typical summer Saturday after Memorial Day.

The special on NBC also was a little less than ABC's primetime coverage of the Live 8 concert on July 2, 2005. Live 8 averaged 2.9 million viewers and a 1.0 rating/5 share in adults 18-49.

In all, users streamed 30 million videos of Live Earth concert footage on MSN live and on-demand as of Monday morning, said Rob Bennett, GM of entertainment, video and sports at MSN.

Bennett also said that with 237,000 users logged on around midday Saturday, MSN's Live Earth webcast broke the record for most simultaneous viewers of an online entertainment event. The previous record was 175,000 streaming users for Live 8 on AOL.

Bennett said that the on-demand offering of the concert will be available for 90 days and should account for a "majority of the streams" when all the numbers are crunched. He did not have a specific projection but said that the company would provide a recap of the available data at week's end.

According to AOL, there were more than 100 million streams of Live 8 footage on-demand in the six weeks after the shows.

Live Earth was a series of eight concurrent concerts worldwide developed by Al Gore and designed to raise awareness about global warming. More than 100 artists took part in shows Saturday in New Jersey; London; Johannesburg, South Africa; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Tokyo; Sydney; and Hamburg, Germany.

Bennett said that the concert at Wembley Stadium in London, which featured Madonna, the Beastie Boys and Metallica, was the most-streamed of all the shows. The site for the concert at Giants Stadium, which showcased Kelly Clarkson, Bon Jovi and the Smashing Pumpkins, had the most page views.

The U.S. concert, though, ranked behind Sydney, Hamburg and Tokyo in streaming numbers.

Data on the most-streamed artists was not immediately available, Bennett said, but Madonna's page on the Live Earth site had the most views. Ratings for the all-day, all-night telecasts on NBC Universal's cable platforms, including 18 hours on Bravo and even more than that on Sundance Channel, won't be in until today.

The Live Earth ratings in the U.K. weren't any better. Ratings for the BBC1 live afternoon telecast was less than one-third of the Concert for Diana numbers a week ago. Live Earth on BBC1 peaked at 4.5 million viewers during Madonna's performance, compared with the Diana concert that peaked at 14.8 million viewers on BBC1.

Billboard's Lars Brandle in London contributed to this report.
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