Auto safety VNR captured biggest audience in 2001

NEW YORK: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has wrestled its way to the number-one spot on Medialink's list of most-watched video news releases (VNRs) for 2001.

NEW YORK: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has wrestled its way to the number-one spot on Medialink's list of most-watched video news releases (VNRs) for 2001.

A runner-up last year, the IIHS has been in the top 10 for the past four years. In 2001, as it has in years past, the institute produced a series of 11 releases - which this year had 1.1 billion viewers - that share consumer information on the safety of new vehicles.

Practically a syndicated series by now, the IIHS' VNRs were described by Susan Macaluso, associate VP of US marketing for Medialink, as being "well-produced material that the stations know they can count on."

Ryan Barr, director of corporate development and communications for Medialink, attributes the IIHS' success to the fact that the subject matter repeatedly touched the masses. "A lot of news stations wanted to use it because it could play throughout the entire year,

Barr said.

British Airways came in second, with news that the airline had invested more than $43 million on safety modifications and customer improvements to the Concorde. The VNR attracted a global audience of 191 million, with 214 airings.

The Pearl Harbor movie premiere, distributed by Buena Vista, got the third spot, with an audience of 190 million viewers.

Taco Bell caught viewers' attention with its 40-foot, square floating target, labeled "Free Taco Here.

This was done in anticipation of the 15-year-old space station Mir's decent to Earth. If the station hit the target, every person in the country would have received a free taco. The release reached 121 million people, and had 1,615 airings.

The highest-ranking healthcare VNR, with 120 million viewers, was for the FDA approval of Gleevec, Novartis' oral therapy drug for patients with chronic myeloid leukemia.

While praising the IIHS, Macaluso pointed out that the success of the British Airways and Buena Vista VNRs was significant, considering the time-sensitivity of the material. Regaining confidence in the Concorde and promoting Pearl Harbor were topics that could only run for a limited time before they'd be seen as old news. Racking up such high numbers, without the entire year to run the VNRs, "is really impressive,

Barr said.

Overall, the top-10 news stories reached a total global audience of more than 1.5 billion viewers in the US, Canada, Europe, Asia, and Australia.

Figures are based on Nielsen ratings and broadcast usage.

MEDIALINK'S TOP US VNRS OF 2001

1 INSURANCE INSTITUTE FOR HIGHWAY SAFETY: The crashworthiness of large pick-up trucks (213 million viewers; 1,855 airings)

2 BRITISH AIRWAYS: Improvements to the Concorde (191 million viewers; 214 airings)

3 BUENA VISTA: Pearl Harbor world premiere (190 million viewers; 204 airings)

4 IIHS: Mid-size SUV bumper crash test (157 million viewers; 1,332 airings)

5 MOTOROLA: The role of mobile phones (146 million viewers; 92 airings)

6 IIHS: Crash-test results of Dodge Grand Caravan/Hyundai Elantra (139 million viewers; 1,309 airings)

7 ERICSSON: Consumer-orientated technology products (130 million viewers; 181 airings)

8 EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY: The first European astronaut (121.6 million viewers; 298 airings)

9 TACO BELL: The reentry of 15-year-old space station Mir (121 million viewers; 1,615 airings)

10 NOVARTIS: FDA approval of Gleevec (120 million viewers; 1,062 airings).

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