Those were the results of a study conducted by television researcher, Nielsen, and Sony Electronics, in an attempt to determine which TV moments had the most impact on U.S. audiences over the past 50 years.
According to the Senior Vice President at Nielsen, Paul Lindstrom, what’s important aren’t the events themselves but the resulting moments people share with one another. The emotions associated with a particular event, he said, are what make them memorable.
That explains why events such as the September 11 attacks in 2001, Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the death of Osama bin Laden in 2011 rounded up within the top five most impactful events.
The study, which questioned 12,000 participants in an online survey in February, provided respondents with a list of choices selected by media experts. The choices ranged from news coverage to pop culture events such as the Superbowl or the finale of well-known sitcom “Friends.”
Yet, stories of communal nature and widespread relevance resonated with viewers and landed them at the top of the list.
Below is a complete list of the 20 most impactful events:
- 1. September 11 attacks, 2001
- 4. Challenger space shuttle disaster, 1986
- 5. Death of Osama bin Laden, 2011
- 6. OJ Simpson high-speed car chase, 1994
- 7. Earthquake/tsunami in Japan, 2011
- 8. Columbine school shooting, 1999
- 9. BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, 2010
- 10. Funeral of Princess Diana, 1997
- 11. Death of Whitney Houston, 2012
- 12. Capture and execution of Saddam Hussein, 2006
- 13. Barack Obama acceptance speech, 2008
- 14. Prince William, Kate Middleton wedding, 2011
- 15. Assassination of John F. Kennedy, 1963
- 16. Oklahoma City bombing, 1995
- 17. Bush/Gore election results, 2000
- 18. Los Angeles riots/Rodney King beating, 1992
- 19. Casey Anthony murder trial verdict, 2011
- 20. Funeral of John F. Kennedy, 1963