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Live Earth: Not Quite A Global Audience Warmer

Monday, 9 Jul 2007 | 3:10 PM ET
Live Earth - Japan
Live Earth - Japan

After all the hubbub about Live Earth, it wasn't quite the worldwide phenomenon everyone was hoping. I had intentions of watching the concert, but ended up spending time outside enjoying the lovely summer weather. The estimated 2.7 million viewers fell short of the 3 million viewers NBC usually draws on summer Saturday nights with repeats and Stanley Cup Hockey.

The point of Live Earth was to generate more viewers than regularly scheduled repeats--not less! And though NBC tried to hard to learn from the mistakes of the last international concert --Live 8, two years ago--Live Earth also fell short there. ABC's broadcasting of Live 8 brought in 2.9 million viewers. We won't get the ratings for the day-long cable telecasts until Tuesday, but I don't have high hopes after the network disappointment. Over in the UK, the Princess Diana Concert stole the show: it earned 11.4 million viewers. But on the upside, I see that both concerts set a new record for online streams delivered.

So why the bust? I think the timing. A TV event in the middle of the dog days of summer wasn't the best. But also there's the fundamental fact that people don't generally tune into TV for music. And of course it points to the foundering music industry, which is having problems all-around. Concert tours can be huge, especially for the singers on tour: they're certainly more profitable than album sales these days. But I suppose they don't translate to the big screen. Another potential issue-- is there some skepticism about celebs commitment to the environment? (with their private jets and all) or is it that people don't want to hear about the environment from the Pussycat Dolls? (As CNN's Lola Ogunnaike commented this morning).

Questions? Comments? MediaMoney@cnbc.com

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