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GE, Apple, GM Find "Green Pastures" On Live Earth

Tomorrow, the NBC Universal Family (parent company is GE ) brings us Live Earth--with a three hour primetime special on NBC, plus 18 hours of coverage of Bravo and seven hours on our very own CNBC. Plus coverage on all sorts of other channels in the family--including Telemundo, Mun2, Universal HD, and the Sundance Channel. A sign of the power of the Live Earth message, NBC has attracted some top-notch (huge and influential) advertisers--General Motors , Apple , and American Express .

And in a rare twist, NBC is working with these advertisers to reduce the amount of commercial ad time from 28 minutes per hour (which is standard) to 10 minutes per hour. This in response to a backlash against the Live 8 concert in 2005, which was attacked for having too many commercial interruptions. The theory is: NBC, plus the sponsors themselves, engender more goodwill, and keep viewers tuned in by minimizing the ad interruptions. And if they do it right, they won't be losing any revenue, they could even be making more, especially if it keeps viewers engaged.

In terms of corporate sponsors, those advertisers are just the tip of the iceberg--everyone wants to get a piece of the feel-good, do-good "green" message of the concert. And what's perhaps more appealing to companies is the scale of the concert--its simultaneous global reach is a prime opportunity for them to reach a new global audience and stretch their limits.

Take Microsoft . MSN is the sole internet broadcaster of the event. MSN will get new people to log onto its site around the world, not only boosting eyeballs on Saturday, but gaining that cool factor that will stick long after the concert ends. And VeriSign is the company allowing users to interact with the program via text message. They're excited to show what they can do around the world. Then of course companies like Pepsi , which are sponsoring the concerts themselves, are making a point of their own green efforts--PepsicCo is making a big recycling push at the Giants Stadium event.

Green is cool, and so is being global, and this event, seems to sponsors, to be both.

Questions? Comments? MediaMoney@cnbc.com

  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.