'Live Earth' Doesn't Play Well With Viewers

By John Maynard
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 11, 2007

"Live Earth" was dead weight for NBC this weekend.

The three-hour prime-time telecast of the event, designed to raise awareness of climate-change issues, drew just 2.8 million viewers to the network. It was the least watched show among the major broadcast networks Saturday night, trailing repeats of Fox's "Cops," which averaged 4.2 million, and "America's Most Wanted" (4.7 million), and ABC's broadcast of the 2001 movie "Monsters, Inc." (3.4 million).

NBC's telecast included live coverage of musical acts at New Jersey's Giants Stadium as well as taped bits from concerts around the globe.

But the news was not all bad for "Live Earth" organizer Al Gore, according to ratings spinmeisters at NBC Universal: 19 million people watched at least six minutes of the concerts that aired throughout the day on its networks NBC, Bravo, CNBC and Telemundo. (Nielsen does not measure ratings for Sundance Channel, which also televised the concert.)

Bravo's 18 hours of coverage, beginning at 9 a.m., averaged 740,000 viewers, double what the network usually brings in on a Saturday, and peaked at 9 p.m. with an audience of 1.3 million.

Many television sets were dormant this past holiday week as indicated by the historically low ratings for the broadcast networks.

CBS won the weekly Nielsen ratings battle for the sixth straight week, but its average audience of 6.3 million viewers was its smallest weekly audience in modern television history.

CBS's eighth-season premiere of "Big Brother" on Thursday was its least watched premiere yet, drawing 7.4 million viewers.

In the battle of dueling fireworks "spectaculars," viewers chose New York over Boston. NBC's "Macy's 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular" at 9 p.m. drew 7.6 million viewers; CBS's "Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular" at 10 p.m. garnered 6.7 million.

The week's top 10 programs, in order, were: CBS's "CSI"; Fox's 9 p.m. "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?"; CBS's "CSI: Miami," "60 Minutes" and "Two and a Half Men"; Fox's "Hell's Kitchen" and 8 p.m. "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?"; NBC's "Macy's 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular"; and CBS's "NCIS" and "Big Brother 8."

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