(ANSA) - Sanremo, February 19 - The Sanremo Music Festival
nabbed nearly half of the Italian television-viewing audience on
its opening night Tuesday, according to ratings data released
In its first half, some 12 and a half million Italians
tuned into the 64th annual publicly-funded song competition and
prime-time entertainment extravaganza, equal to 45.77% of total
The number dropped to five million in the second half of
the show, while the viewer share crept up to 47.14%.
The show, broadcast on State television RAI 1, has been the
target of anti-establishment comic-turned-politician Beppe
Grillo of the 5-Star Movement for its 18-million-euro price tag.
Grillo staged a demonstration outside the event late
Tuesday, calling it "emptiness par excellence" and a factor in
Italy's "political and economic disaster".
Nevertheless, RAI says the show will rake in 20.2 million
euros in advertising, plus 600,000 euros in ticket sales.
RAI 1 Director Giancarlo Leone had hoped the show would
draw ratings of "somewhere between the 35.4% low of 2004 and the
2013 peak of 47.3%".