Oprah Winfrey’s highly-anticipated interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on Sunday night attracted north of 17.1 million viewers to CBS, Nielsen’s early numbers suggest, offering a glimmer of hope for a TV industry that continues to see ratings erosion for live event programming.
That performance figure—more than double the 6.9 million total viewers that tuned into last weekend’s Golden Globes—does not include viewership from the West Coast, meaning the broadcast’s recorded audience is all but guaranteed to increase once Nielsen reports its final timezone-adjusted numbers.
The couple’s first public interview since stepping down from their Royal duties last year was a gamble for CBS, which is believed to have paid between $7 million and $9 million for the rights to the broadcast, the Wall Street Journal reports. That deal with Harpo Productions, which is owned by Winfrey, includes international airing rights; the interview is set to broadcast in the U.K. this evening at 9 p.m. local time.
But despite numerous TV events in recent months slumping below their pre-pandemic viewership numbers, CBS’ gamble appears to have paid off, with the network netting millions of eyeballs and charging advertisers in the ballpark of $325,000 per 30-seconds of commercial time.