AOL Licenses Live 8 Coverage To MTV

Sharing the wealth, America Online Wednesday said it would license broadcast rights for next month's Live 8 concert to MTV Networks, Premiere Radio Networks, and XM Satellite Radio. AOL gained control of the North American media rights to the concerts after paying an undisclosed sum to promoter Bob Geldof, who organized the original "Live Aid" concert in 1985.

Exclusive coverage of the shows was not a priority for AOL, according to Jim Bankoff, executive vice president for programming and products at America Online. "We believe that our medium does something that TV can't do, and TV does things that the Internet can't do," he explained. "This event is a worldwide event, and we wanted to share it with broadcast partners."

The Live 8 concerts are taking place on July 2 in five cities--Philadelphia, London, Paris, Berlin, and Rome--to raise awareness for Third World debt and fair trade practices just days before world leaders will gather at the G8 conference in Scotland. Confirmed artists include the Dave Matthews Band, Jay-Z, P. Diddy, Stevie Wonder, Coldplay, Elton John, Madonna, Paul McCartney, Pink Floyd, REM, Sting, and U2, among a long list of others.



MTV clearly was delighted with the development. Judy McGrath, MTV Networks Chairman, called it one of MTV's proudest moments, in a statement.

Kevin Wall, Live 8's worldwide executive producer, explained how America Online must have recognized what a seminal event Live 8 was to "open the door and get it to as many people as possible," also in a statement.

And while AOL has decided to share its wealth of coverage--for an undisclosed sum--Bankoff has said the online experience offers extras that TV and radio lack. "MTV will have elements of the show," Bankoff said, while "AOL will have all shows live in their entirety."

AOL, which finally debuted its free service this week, has had success streaming live Webcasts in the past. The most popular live music event at AOL to date was a May 9 concert by the Dave Matthews Band, which was streamed almost half a million times in 24 hours. Also, Super Bowl ads in 2004 were streamed more than 22 million times in 10 days.

Bankoff estimated that many consumers will be more interested in AOL's on-demand feature so they can watch the concerts at leisure. "Generally, what we find is that the on-demand nature of the content is the real power of it," he told OnlineMediaDaily earlier this month.

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