US: 9/11 terrorist attacks most watched TV event

At No 2 was the 2005 coverage of Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf Coast, while the acquittal of OJ Simpson was ranked third.

Updated: Jul 12, 2012, 13:47 PM IST

New York: The 9/11 terrorist attacks have topped the list of most memorable televised moments the last half-century.

In the meter of memorable televised moments, the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people beat out Neil Armstrong’s moon walk and the Beatles gig on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ by a gaping margin, according to the survey by Sony Electronics and Nielsen.

In fact, none of the Top 10 moments in the survey by Sony Electronics and Nielsen research company happened before the January 28, 1986, space shuttle Challenger explosion, the New York Post reported.

The Beatles’ groundbreaking 1964 Sullivan performance landed at a distant No 43. The 1969 moon landing splashed down at No 21.

Not even US president Richard Nixon’s 1974 resignation speech cracked the Top 20.

At No 2 was the 2005 coverage of Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf Coast, while the acquittal of OJ Simpson, a decade earlier was ranked third.

Fairly recent news events dominated the upper rankings, ranging from the Challenger tragedy (No 4) to the Columbine High School massacre (No 8) to Princess Diana’s funeral (No 10).

The Top 10 also included the death of Osama bin Laden (No 5), OJ Simpson’s low-speed car chase of 1994 (No 6), the 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami (No 7) and the 2010 BP Gulf oil spill (No 9).

Age clearly made a difference in the choices. Among those age 55 and over, the assassination of president John F Kennedy — with Walter Cronkite famously breaking the news to America — ranked second behind 9/11.

For those ages 18-34, the bin Laden death was ranked second overall. In fact, people in that age group selected no event before 1980 — when they chose the murder of ex-Beatle John Lennon.

Overall, JFK’s funeral landed in the No 20 spot. In contrast, the death of drug-addled diva Whitney Houston was ranked No 11.