Records tumbled as an estimated worldwide audience of 2 billion tuned in Saturday (July 2) to Bob Geldof's historic Live 8. AOL says its exclusive Internet feed of the multi-concert event broke all e

Records tumbled as an estimated worldwide audience of 2 billion tuned in Saturday (July 2) to Bob Geldof's historic Live 8.

AOL says its exclusive Internet feed of the multi-concert event broke all existing online records. The Internet service provider says more than five million viewers logged in to its AOLmusic.com site, which streamed the live concerts in London, Philadelphia, Paris, Rome, Berlin and Toronto. More than 175,000 simultaneous video streams were registered -- over a third greater than the previous biggest online video event, AOL says.

AOL programming senior VP Bill Wilson described Live 8 as "the biggest online event in history" and says the initiative "sets the bar for future in terms of scope and reach."

Universal Music marked the occasion by delivering a string of extraordinary digital download releases, including the Paul McCartney and U2 rendition of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." The music major rush-released the track -- which opened the Hyde Park, London leg of the event -- to 200 online music stores within an hour of its performance. The track is currently the No. 1 download on iTunes in the United Kingdom, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland and Italy. Proceeds from the download sales are donated to Live 8.

McCartney's climactic songs from the Hyde Park concert, including a star-studded version of "Hey Jude," are expected to be available to download from today, according to a Universal Music spokesman.

Geldof, the Irish musician who masterminded Band Aid and the Live Aid concerts 20 years ago, conceived the latest event as a political exercise to influence world leaders into making Africa a priority. He gathered arguably the greatest-ever collection of artists to perform at 10 concerts across four continents, each running simultaneously and interlinked through satellite and the Internet.

Hyde Park, the cornerstone of the music program, played host to an audience of more than 200,000 people. Highlights included performances by Sting, Robbie Williams and a re-united Pink Floyd. "So far so good. Snoop Dog was the business, but I'm really here to see Pink Floyd," Fun Lovin' Criminals frontman Huey, one of an estimated 15,000 VIP guests in the Golden Circle area, told Billboard.biz earlier in the day. More than 1 million people attended the concerts worldwide.

Pink Floyd's appearance also translated into significant sales gains for the veteran progressive rock act's catalog, market-leading British music retailer HMV said today (July 4). The band's 2001 release "Echoes - Best Of" (Chrysalis) on Sunday achieved a 1,343% week-on-week rise in sales across HMV's 200 stores in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Of the live performers in Hyde Park on Saturday, only Pete Doherty -- frontman for Babyshambles and formerly with the Libertines -- saw a decrease in record sales, an HMV spokesman says. Doherty briefly appeared on stage to collaborate with Elton John for a cover of T-Rex's 1972's hit "Children Of the Revolution."

By the close of festivities, Live 8 had generated text messages from more than 26 million people globally in support of the "Make Poverty History" campaign -- a world record for a single event, according to organizers.

As the show began to run further overtime, sets by the Who and others were cut in length. "The site ran perfectly, everything ran perfectly, although somewhat late," Clear Channel Entertainment U.K festival director Stuart Galbraith tells Billboard.biz; CCE provided the infrastructure for the London concert. "That was always realistically going to be the case with squeezing that many bands into such a short period of time."

The program was ultimately completed at about midnight, some two hours behind schedule. Metropolitan Police report that a few dozen spectators chose to sleep in Hyde Park, as public transport had become swamped.

Geldof and his colleagues' attention is now focused on Edinburgh, and the July 6-8 G8 summit of world leaders. The Scottish capital will host a "final push" concert on Wednesday, in a last-ditch attempt to appeal for African economic relief.