News Dominates Most Impactful TV Memories
The most impactful TV moments of the past half-century? The awful “Seinfeld” finale and terrific “Cheers” one have
to be up there, right? Same for the “M*A*S*H” finish and so many Olympic golden achievements?
None of the above.
A Nielsen study commissioned by Sony found that no entertainment or sports content made the top 20. Major news events filled the whole list and only one could be considered fully uplifting: Barack Obama’s acceptance speech after the 2008 election (ranked 13th) and the 2011 royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton (14th).
Two others could be considered positive, but negative events engendered them: the 2011 death of Osama Bin Laden (5th) and Saddam Hussein’s capture and death (12th).
The research found the Sept. 11 attacks to be the most impactful, followed in second place by Hurricane Katrina. The 1995 O.J. Simpson verdict came in third, followed by the 1986 Challenger tragedy. Bin Laden’s death completed the top five. Simpson’s white Bronco chase finished sixth, followed by the 2011 Japanese earthquake, Columbine school shooting, 2010 Gulf oil spill and Princess Diana’s funeral.
“Impactful” was determined based on three criteria: reach (how many people say they saw an event when it occurred), resonance (did people remember where they were and who they were with when something happened) and reaction (did the event prompt a person to discuss it with someone else).
Sony commissioned the study partly to demonstrate that TV continues to engender shared experiences in a world with increasingly fragmented media. Also to gain insight into what connects and moves people.
“As a good marketer, I can come up with ways to have a good product that strikes an emotional chord with consumers,” said Brian Siegel, Sony Electronics’ vice president of television, who added that he was surprised no entertainment events made the top 20.
Going forward, as Sony views TV as a centerpiece, yet considers how to improve the ways that people share emotions and commentary about how it moves them, Siegel said: “The integration of those experiences should be more natural than they are today.”
The 1963 JFK assassination and funeral, which finished 15th and 20th, were the oldest events. Coverage of Whitney Houston’s death this year marked the most recent.
“Sadness and tragedy are sadly universal emotions,” said Nielsen Senior Vice President Paul Lindstrom.
The Nielsen research was conducted online and derived results from 1,100 responses from people 18 or older across the country. It was conducted from Feb. 15-17 this year. Methodology was similar to how Nielsen gauges advertising effectiveness.
While it did not make the top 20, among adult women, the 2004 “Friends” finale made the list. Among men, the Sammy Sosa-Mark McGwire 2008 home run record chase was a leading performer.
Among men under age 34, the LeBron James “Decision” show in ESPN had a lot of viewers recalling where they were when it was broadcast.