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AmEx inks to sponsor VH1’s ‘Hard Rock Live’

Pretenders kick off concert series

NEW YORK — VH1 will bring back the concert series “Hard Rock Live” for a second season, but this year the show has a different sponsor, American Express.

TBS Intl. will distribute “Hard Rock Live” to 60 countries, and American Express will sponsor the series in all the international territories. The credit card company replaces Pontiac Sunbird, which sponsored the show in its freshman year.

Production on the live performance series starts next week in Sony Studios here. “Hard Rock Live’s” second season will kick off July 10 with the Pretenders. Other acts will include Natalie Imbruglia, Third Eye Blind, Ben Folds Five, Boyz II Men, Trisha Yearwood, Ani DiFranco and Hootie & the Blowfish.

“Pontiac Sunfire had a successful relationship with us, but now we have a partner that can take advantage of the global nature of the show,” said David Goodman, VP of special programs and projects for Warner Bros. Pay TV, Cable & Network Features, which is a producer of the series.

In its first season on VH1, “Hard Rock Live” averaged a 1.1-1.2 rating for its four weekly runs, or about 0.3 for each airing. said Goodman. He added that ratings varied by artist, with acts such as Jewel and John Fogarty earning 0.5 for one airing while less popular artists checked in at 0.2.

The series airs on Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at midnight, Monday at 7 p.m. and Thursday at midnight.

VH1 president John Sykes said the weekend runs are scheduled for former concertgoers who don’t have the freedom to attend too many live music shows anymore.

“The weekend visibility is so people who are stuck at home on weekends with the kids can still enjoy live concerts,” said Sykes.