AOL Had the Better Show For Viewers

By Joanna Weiss, Globe Staff
How much has the world changed in 20 years? Two decades ago, Live Aid
had earnest musicians and teeming crowds, novel collaborations and
enough serious rock to merit a day on the couch.
But yesterday, if you were going to spend a sunny Saturday watching a
global pop music extravaganza, you had two choices: watching the joint
coverage on MTV and VH1 or watching live streaming video on AOL. And
small screens notwithstanding, you were far better off online.
AOL let you zip from city to city on your own, without relying on
someone else's editorial decisions. AOL didn't bleep expletives from
Green Day in Berlin or Madonna in London. The internet show also
started earlier and ran the whole event live.
And AOL didn't interrupt its broadcast with ads: Yes, MTV and VH1
reminded us often, they were helping to raise global awareness of
African poverty. But they were also raising global awareness of MTV
and VH1, stocking commercial breaks with ads for the upcoming shows --
''The Surreal Life," ''Celebrity Fit Club," ''The 70s House" -- and
commercials that didn't exactly match Live 8's Save-the-Earth
message. Not long after the Black Eyed Peas crooned about global
responsibility, for example, MTV aired an extra-long ad filled violent
scenes from the upcoming movie ''The Island."
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Monty Solomon
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