As much as we love television for telling us stories about cowboy robots, hordes of zombies and women tattooed with clues for cases that the FBI has to crack, television is still a medium that serves as a barometer for what we're currently talking about on any given day.
Be it news, sports or the latest fad, if it's what's happening, it's been on television at one point or other. Real-time TV & media research company iQ Media kept tabs on television mentions in 2016 to find what the most-discussed moments on TV of the year were, and for everyone's sake, they left out any mentions of the 2016 United States presidential election, which was clearly the runaway winner.
Here are the top 10 stories discussed on television in 2016, according to iQ's research.
(Note: TV data was taken from the following countries: U.S., Canada, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, Italy, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico, Spain, and Venezuela.)
Britain's surprising vote to leave the European Union — the most shocking voting result up until this November — was barely a blip on our radar until it was too late. But as the results came in, hoo boy!
9. The Chicago Cubs win the World Series
The sports world's lovable losers ended a 108-year drought of winning the World Series in 2016 by storming back from being down three games to one against the Cleveland Indians. Game 7 was an instant classic and one of the greatest baseball games ever played, increasing the unlikely — and very discussion worthy — victory. Of course, going up against the NFL and the last week of campaigning in the presidential election likely hurt chatter of the win, as this seems fairly low on the list.
8. Olympic gymnast Simone Biles
Simone Biles won four gold medals at the Rio Olympics, including the most prized of them all, the individual all-around gold. Her performance set a record for most gold medals by an American woman at the Olympics, and cemented her as the most-decorated female gymnast in Olympic and World Championship medals in American history.
7. Michael Phelps' final Olympics
Michael Phelps increased his lead as the most-decorated Olympian of all time in 2016, amassing 28 Olympic medals in his career thanks to earning a half-dozen more in Rio. Plus, he made that angry face, which became a meme and a fantastic talking point.
6. The 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio
Interest in the Olympics may have been down in 2016, but not that much. We have to assume that Ryan Lochte's mischievousness was lumped into general Olympics chatter for this research, as he didn't make the list individually.
5. The Denver Broncos win the Super Bowl
USA! USA! USA! Peyton Manning's final Super Bowl victory was a no-brainer to make the list, as anything Super Bowl is a major television event.
4. The Pulse nightclub Orlando shooting
The deadliest mass shooting by a single shooter and deadliest incident against the LGBTQ community rocked the country and world just when the issue of gun control was at peak discussion.
3. The Cleveland Cavaliers win the NBA championship
Yep, sports are popular. The Cavs, led by a performance for the ages by superstar LeBron James, came back from a three-games-to-one deficit against the heavily favored Golden State Warriors to fulfill James' promise of a championship for his hometown Cavs after breaking their hearts when he left for the Miami Heat years before. Why is this ahead of the Super Bowl and the World Series? Basketball's international popularity and no competition from the presidential election likely had something to do with it.
2. Prince's death
The Purple One's sudden demise was a story that transcended the music industry due to his popularity. 2016 was an awful year for celebrity passings, with the deaths of David Bowie, Muhammad Ali, Fidel Castro, Harambe the gorilla and Brangelina also making iQ's list.
1. The Zika virus
The very real panic of an unstoppable viral outbreak is more than just a news item, and the Zika virus was by far and away the most-discussed moment on television this year. The timing of it (coinciding with the Rio Olympics) and international relevance made it the event that the whole world was talking about.
What were your biggest moments of 2016?