TV audience of 31 million+ for Michael Jackson memorial


If you scanned the channels Tuesday afternoon, the memorial service for Michael Jackson live from Los Angeles was all over. The Nielsen Company now estimates that 31.1 million people watched the broadcast – and that’s just in the United States.

As TV funerals go, Jackson’s music and celebrity filled service drew a bigger audience than the funerals of Pope John Paul II or Presidents Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford. However, Nielsen’s numbers still put Tuesday’s broadcast behind the funerals of Britain’s Princess Dianna and the actual burial of President Reagan.

The Michael Jackson memorial service was carried live from approximately 1:00 pm ET to 4:00 pm ET Tuesday (7/7) on 18 networks: ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, Telefutura, Telemundo, Univision, CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, Headline News, BET, E!, MTV, VH1, VH1 Classic, TV Guide Network and TV ONE. Most were commercial-free. Nielsen estimates that the average audience was 31.1 million, with a combined Household rating of 20.6.

Undoubtedly one of the most well-known figures in the world, Michael Jackson’s death has drawn significant attention. Here is a summary of other notable personalities whose death generated mass television interest.