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LONDON – The Rolling Stones’ debut turn at the U.K.’s landmark Glastonbury music festival garnered a 2.5 million peak audience for the BBC on Saturday night.
Overall, the coverage scored an average of 2.1 million TV viewers.
The Stones’ screen audience figure is expected to be in the tens of millions by the time viewers on the BBC’s free online VOD catch-up service iPlayer get counted.
The band has been performing for rock audiences for 50 years, but finally made its debut appearance at Glastonbury, with Mick Jagger telling the crowd they looked amazing.
“I’m going to tell you something, you know it’s great to be here doing this show,” Jagger said from the stage before third song “Paint It, Black,” during which two flares were lit up in the crowd. “You all look amazing. After all these years they finally got around to asking us.”
NME noted that an animated Jagger took center stage again for Stones-go-disco track “Miss You,” at which point he invited the crowd to sing along to the high-pitched chorus.
That track and its sing-along coincided with the band’s set going live on the BBC.
Coverage of the show came after a compromise was reached in a spat over what the broadcaster could show of the band’s set.
By the time it began airing on the BBC, the band had played 11 tracks, after opening with “Jumping Jack Flash.”
The band, who played for nearly two hours, had reportedly initially limited the BBC to broadcasting four songs from their show, arguing that only the paying live audience should get to see the full gig.
BBC radio DJ Mark Radcliffe and Jo Whiley introduced the band to TV viewers, noting that the set had attracted the biggest Glastonbury crowd ever — over 100,000.
British newspaper critics have deemed the Stones’ set a huge success.
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