Number Crunch

Oprah’s Meghan Markle Interview Raked in the Viewers — and Ad Dollars

Americans are obsessed with British royals, but it’s Oprah who reigns supreme

17.1 million: That’s how many viewers tuned into Oprah’s two-hour interview with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry on CBS last Sunday, according to preliminary data from Nielsen, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.

In the bombshell interview, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex shared additional context surrounding their departure from the British monarchy last year. Markle also painted a disturbing picture of racism directed at her and her unborn child when she was pregnant with her son, Archie.

For exclusive rights to air the tell-all, CBS struck a deal valued between $7 million and $9 million with Oprah’s production company, Harpo Studios. According to ad executives, the network charged a premium of $325,000 for 30-second ads during the special, roughly double the price for TV programs that run during the coveted prime time slot of 8–10 p.m. As Marker previously reported, TV ratings have been tanking lately, with this year’s Golden Globes pulling in a measly 6.9 million viewers, a 62% drop in viewership.

You might call this a win-win-win for CBS, Oprah, and the exiled royals who spokespeople confirm were not paid to participate in the interview. That leaves one sore loser: the royal family.

Turns out Her Majesty’s HR department isn’t very helpful.

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