Well, as Kathryn notes below, Live Earth has been and gone like a tree falling in a forest with no-one around. It didn’t even make a sound in the U.K., where I thought it would be moderately successful:
But BBC’s live afternoon television coverage attracted an average British audience of just 900,000.
In the evening, when coverage switched from BBC2 to BBC1, the figure rose to just 2.7million.
And the peak audience, which came when Madonna sang at Wembley, was a dismal 4.5million. Three times as many viewers saw the Princess Diana tribute on the same channel six days before.
Two years ago, Live 8 drew a peak television audience of 9.6million while Live Aid notched 10 million in 1985.
The Times was underwhelmed, noting that concerts are an unwieldy vehicle for this message. Spectator editor Matt d’Ancona was there, and he seemed to enjoy the music, but had this useful neologism for us:
Call it ‘nan-archy’: the anarchy of rock’n'roll grafted onto the spirit of the nanny state. The Red Hot Chili Peppers bounce and rave pleasingly in front of a huge rolling message board which instructs us to recycle our old mobiles, not to wash our towels too often, and to ‘rethink’ how we bring our shopping home. There was a time when some members of this band struggled to live more than a day at a time. Now their horizons stretch beyond rehab and they tell us how to live the rest of our lives. Yes, it’s Nan-archy in the UK.
Is it really any wonder people didn’t tune in? What little I saw of the concerts on TV (the MSN stream was so slow I only got to see the end of Snow Patrol’s set, the only act I had any real interest in) seemed to be a mix of decent music, infomercials for green products and bizarrely silly pledges scrolling across the bottom of the screen. Things like “Tony B has pledged to turn off lights he’s not using” summed up the spirit of the event: public recognition and plaudits for promising to do things your grandmother would have clipped you across the ear for not doing.
Anyway, the event was also crashed by Bureaucrash and DemandDebate.com, whose boss Steve Milloy writes:
DemandDebate debuted at Live Earth (New Jersey) with four aerial banners (each with different messages questioning Gore and global warming), and T-shirts and beach balls bearing the message, “I’m more worried about the intellectual climate.” We had two six-man teams distribute T-shirts and beachballs inside and outside the stadium.
You can see what the Tees and balls look like at DemandDebate.com.
Attached is a photo of one of the aerial banners. Reportedly one of the banners was shown on NBC.
One pilot was listening to Al Gore on XM radio and timed a low pass to drown him out. The stunt apparently worked as we got lots of hate e-mail from Gore accolytes who complained that they couldn’t hear Al Gore.
The beach balls were ubiquitous on TV, and found their way on stage.
According to the Bergen Record, Live Earth performer John Mayer spent most of his post-performance press conference lamenting DemandDebate.
DemandDebate.com had 7,500 page hits over the weekend. Live Earth bloggers — including The Nation — were livid about DemandDebate.
I wonder how much the concert series cost the organizers all told. And I also wonder whether that money might not have been better spent, say, getting potable water to African villagers. Bjorn Lomborg had some thoughts on that.