September 11 Terrorist Attacks Named 'Most Impactful' Televised Event Ever (Study)


Hurricane Katrina, the O.J. Simpson verdict and the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster are also among history's most monumental moments to be viewed on the small screen.

It’s official, if not terribly surprising: The most “impactful” event ever televised was the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Such is the finding of a study conducted by Sony and Nielsen for which the latter created an “Impact Score” that takes into account not only the opinions of those surveyed but also adjusts for tangential information such as whether viewers discussed the event they witnessed on TV with other people or if respondents remembered where they were when they viewed the event.

PHOTOS: Hollywood Answers 'Where Were You on Sept. 11?'

As Nielsen vp research Paul Lindstom puts it, the study seeks to determine the televised events that caused "visceral reactions that are embedded in our memories.” Naturally, there were big differences among age groups (the assassination of JFK was No. 2 among those over 55 but didn’t crack the Top 10 among younger demographics) and between genders (women were “impacted” by the Friends finale and the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton -- men, not so much), but among a cross-section of Americans 18 and older, the results are:

1. Attacks of 9/11 (2001)

2. Hurricane Katrina – the levees break (2005)

3. O.J. Simpson verdict (1995)

4. Challenger space shuttle disaster (1986)

5. Killing of Osama bin Laden (2011)

6. O.J. Simpson white Bronco chase (1994)

7. Japan earthquake (2011)

8. Columbine school shooting (1999)

9. BP Gulf oil spill (2010)

10. Princess Diana’s funeral (1997)