Oprah Winfrey interviews Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
Harpo Productions | Joe Pugliese | Getty Images
Around 17.1 million people tuned in for Oprah Winfrey’s Sunday night interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on CBS, according to the network, citing Nielsen data.
The two-hour sit-down, called “Oprah with Meghan and Harry: A CBS Primetime Special,” pulled in a 2.6 rating among adults 18-49. Those numbers are likely to increase as adjusted data from home viewing and delayed viewing comes in over the next day or so. Nielsen traditionally posts the official numbers for Sunday events late the following Tuesday.
This is the largest prime-time audience for any entertainment special during the 2020-2021 TV season and CBS’ second-most livestreamed event outside of the National Football League and Super Bowl Sunday.
These preliminary figures are a solid return for CBS, which reportedly paid Oprah’s Harpo Productions a licensing fee of between $7 million and $9 million to air the special. Meghan and Harry were not paid to take part in the interview.
For comparison, more people watched the interview than watched September’s Emmy Awards and last month’s Golden Globes combined. The interview is proof that even in a time of streaming, there are still events that can drive considerable viewership to traditional network television.
The interview with Oprah delved deeply into the reasons the couple decided to leave England and step away from their royal duties.
Meghan and Harry addressed what they said was a lack of support Meghan received when she went to the palace for mental health issues, the denial of security protection for the couple’s son, Archie, and some royals’ concerns over what Archie’s skin tone would be once he was born.
The parallels between Meghan and Harry’s mother, Princess Diana, were clear even before the couple made their own comparisons during the interview. Harry noted that they were cut off financially by the royal family in early 2020 and that he and Meghan have only been able to get by because of the inheritance his mother left him.
He added that the deals he and Meghan made with Netflix and Spotify were done, in part, to meet their ongoing security needs.
The couple also revealed that they got married before the official royal wedding in a small intimate ceremony and announced that their second child, due this summer, is a girl.