The 110-minute interview on ITV attracted an average of 11.1 million viewers between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m., according to the broadcaster. Viewership peaked at more than 12.4 million people, or roughly a fifth of the UK population. More than half of people watching television across the United Kingdom at the time were tuned into the interview.
The TV special produced serious revelations. Meghan said that in her time as a member of the family, she experienced suicidal thoughts and that a senior royal had racist conversations about the color of her baby’s skin. Harry spoke of a lack of understanding for the toll that royal life took on the couple’s mental health, and racist treatment by the media.
The ratings are a testament to the public’s curiosity about the royal couple, confidence in Winfrey as an interviewer, and the enduring power of the broadcast TV platform.
It produced ITV’s biggest peak audience since the Rugby World Cup Final in 2019, according to the broadcaster. Some 2.2 million people streamed the program via on demand service ITV Hub, and millions more could catch up in the coming days.
Young Britons, who have a more favorable opinion of Meghan than older people, watched in droves. ITV said that 2.1 million people aged 16 to 34 tuned in, or 71% of TV viewers in that age bracket.
The past year has seen some huge television events in the United Kingdom. When Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the first UK coronavirus lockdown on March 23, 2020, 28.3 million people watched over seven days on TV sets, tablets, PCs and smartphones, according to the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board.
The Meghan and Harry interview also drew a huge audience in the United States. Broadcast network CBS, citing Nielsen data, said the special averaged 17.1 million viewers on Sunday night.
In the fragmented US television landscape, 17 million viewers is a staggering figure. For comparison, CBS averaged 6.5 million viewers in prime time the previous Sunday night. The interview attracted a bigger audience than the most recent Emmys and Golden Globes award telecasts. The Super Bowl is in a league of its own, with almost 100 million viewers.
Millions more people around the world are expected to watch the Oprah interview as it’s broadcast in other markets.
— Brian Stelter contributed reporting.