Live Earth draws lackluster TV ratings

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The globe-spanning Live Earth pop music extravaganza fell flat for television viewers in the United States and Britain, drawing far smaller audiences than the Princess Diana tribute concert a week earlier.

The Black Eyed Peas perform during the Live Earth concert at Wembley Stadium, London, July 7, 2007. REUTERS/Stephen Hird

The main three-hour American TV broadcast on NBC averaged a meager 2.7 million viewers, ranking as the least-watched U.S. program on Saturday night and falling below NBC’s summer prime-time Saturday average, Nielsen Media Research reported on Monday.

Even rival network ABC’s rerun telecast of the animated film “Monsters Inc” garnered a bigger audience -- 3.3 million viewers. The most watched show of the evening was the CBS news magazine “48 Hours” with 6.5 million viewers.

By comparison, NBC, a unit of General Electric Co., averaged 8.8 million viewers with its hour-long broadcast of the memorial concert for the late Princess Diana the previous Sunday.

It was the same story in Britain, where BBC One coverage of the Live Earth climax at London’s Wembley Stadium, leading up to Madonna’s eagerly awaited finale, averaged 3.1 million viewers, compared with 11.4 million for the Diana tribute.

In Germany, the ProSieben network registered 1 million viewers for its Live Earth telecast, accounting for a relatively healthy 6.3 percent market share.

Nielsen later reported that 19 million people watched some portion of Live Earth coverage on NBC or its sister networks, including Bravo and CNBC. But that figure counts anyone who watched for at least six minutes and is thus considered a less meaningful audience measure than average viewership.

Still, the overall numbers amounted to a small fraction of the 2 billion people that Live Earth organizers had hoped to reach through TV, radio and Internet coverage of the event, spearheaded by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore to raise awareness of global warming.

It appeared the Internet was the medium of choice for fans wishing to experience a worldwide music event from afar.

Microsoft Corp.’s Web portal MSN said on Saturday that Live Earth concerts generated more than 9 million Internet streams, the most for an online entertainment event.

That number surpassed the previous record held by the 2005 Live 8 concerts to fight global poverty, MSN said. ABC’s Live 8 telecast, which also fell on a Saturday night in July, averaged 2.9 million viewers.