NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Whether Live Earth will be judged a success will be determined by a permanent shift in consumer behavior toward the environment, so said Control Room CEO and Live Earth organizer Kevin Wall at Ad Age's Green Conference last month. But what is immediately clear is that people tuned in -- online at least.
MSN, the event's exclusive global internet partner, reported that more than 10 million streams were initiated July 7, the day of the show. A stream is defined as a video view and a new stream can be initiated every time a user clicks on a video, but 10 million streams does not necessarily equate to 10 million viewers.
Joanne Bradford, corporate VP-chief media officer of MSN, called the event an "internet broadcasting milestone." ComScore said it wouldn't have video viewing data available until mid-week.
Live Earth organizers suggest that up to 80% of the total views could happen via video on demand after the event, meaning most of the traffic for the concerts is yet to come, further proof that people are interested in media on their own terms. The online coverage was sponsored by Phillips, General Motors Co.'s Chevrolet and Microsoft's Zune.
Those numbers are in contrast with the event's TV ratings. According to Nielsen Media Research, 2.7 million people (or 0.9 rating/3 share in the 18 to 49 demographic) tuned in for the Saturday evening broadcast on NBC; the network's regular summer Saturday night average is 3 million viewers. By comparison, ABC's 2005 broadcast of Live 8, which was also held on a Saturday night in July, earned a 2.1 rating and 5 share, attracting 2.9 million total viewers. (A share is a percentage of TV households that have their sets on at a given time. A rating is a percentage of all TV households. For example, a 1.0 rating is 1% of the total U.S. households with TV.)
Live Earth was a global concert event meant to bring awareness and spur action in the fight against global warming. All day Saturday, cities across the globe, such as New York (well, East Rutherford, N.J., at Giants Stadium), Washington, London, Tokyo, Johannesburg, Rio de Janiero and Istanbul hosted an eclectic collection of more than 100 artists including The Police, Madonna, Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood.
It was not an event without controversy. The organizers worked hard to reduce each concert's "carbon footprint," Mr. Wall, who produced the show, said last month, when he addressed criticism that the massive event would do more harm to the earth than good, thanks to the massive amounts of energy required to put on such a show. And some of the artists were being called hypocrites for either investments they've made into non-environmentally friendly companies or for the giant tour entourages that can include multiple busses and semi-tractor-trailers.
But Mr. Wall argued that the concerts themselves needed to be a big event in order to secure major TV broadcast contracts, which would help drive awareness of the event and the cause. In addition to MSN and NBC, Live Earth aired on satellite and terrestrial radio and daytime coverage aired on NBC's cable network Bravo. Mr. Wall and his team previously produced Live 8, the summer 2005 concert aimed at ending global poverty, which at the time produced a streaming media record for AOL.