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World tuned in for Live 8

Saturday’s Live 8 concerts went out globally on more than 140 TV stations, making them available to around 85% of the world’s population. But how well they did in the ratings depends on the choice of broadcaster – free-to-air coverage clearly did better than pay channels – while certain territories notched much better numbers than others. Stateside, basic-cable music networks MTV and VH1 aired the concerts from noon to 8 p.m. ET. MTV notched 1.4 million viewers, including 838,000 adults 18-49 and 217,000 teens 12-17, while VH1 managed 762,000 viewers, including 481,000 adults 18-49 and 122,000 teens 12-17. The two networks aired the same show. MTV was widely criticized for its poor coverage, frequently cutting to talking heads and breaking away from bands onstage in Philadelphia, London, Berlin, Paris, Johannesburg, Tokyo and Barrie, Canada; shows in Rome, Moscow and Cornwall, England, were not aired at all. Many swapped the music networks for the Web, logging on to AOL for uninterrupted music. Average audience for the 12-hour broadcast on free-to-air BBC1 in the U.K. was 6.6 million, with a peak of 9.6 million. Interest was high in the U.K.; Live 8 organizer Bob Geldof lives in London, where some 200,000 people watched the gig in Hyde Park featuring Paul McCartney, Madonna, R.E.M. and a reunited Pink Floyd.

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