18M Get Live 8 Via MTVN

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MTV: Music Television and VH1 reached more than 18 million total viewers during their eight hours of coverage of the anti-poverty Live 8 concerts.

From noon-8 p.m. (ET) July 2, MTV and VH1 combined to beat all cable networks among total viewers, according to network officials. Over the eight hours, MTV reached some 13.3 million viewers, while VH1 garnered 9.12 million, according to Nielsen Media Research data.

For its part, ABC’s two-hour taped highlight show from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. averaged 2.89 million two-plus viewers.

AOL Music (music.aol.com), which streamed the concerts live, garnered some 5 million unique users, with multiple streams peaking at 175,000 at 6:30 p.m.

Gauged on a quarter-hour basis, MTV and VH1 averaged 2.16 million viewers, according to network officials.

MTV topped all cable networks during the span among persons 12-34, while VH1 improved its adults 18-49 delivery in the period by 84% and total viewers by 100% compared with the prior four-week period, according to Nielsen data.

Peak viewing occurred from 6:15-6:30 p.m. — a reunited Pink Floyd in London and Stevie Wonder in Philadelphia were on stage during that span — with some 1.7 million watching MTV (its highest period) and 900,000 viewing the proceedings on VH1.

The latter service scored its highest quarter hour total, just under 1 million viewers, from 5:15-5:30 p.m., according to Nielsen data.

As to carping about MTV and VH1’s simultaneous coverage, which featured performers being joined in mid-song and/or before tunes were completed in favor of cutaways to network correspondents, a spokeswoman said the Viacom channels were contractually required to rely on the world feed. Moreover, the channels had to break for predetermined commercial pods, she said.

All told, VH1 and MTV provided coverage of 69 of the 150 Live 8 acts, according to the spokesman.

At presstime, VH1 and MTV were finalizing plans to showcase more Live 8 last Saturday. The July 9 presentation was slated to include five commercial-free hours apiece on the networks.

Performances were expected to be skewed toward the networks’ respective audiences, with some overlap on both channels.