What was Oprah Winfrey's most-watched interview? Meghan Markle's did not make top spot despite 17.1 million views

The interview on CBS fell short by a massive margin to the TV personality's most-watched interview, which had happened all the way in 1993, with Michael Jackson on ABC


                            What was Oprah Winfrey's most-watched interview? Meghan Markle's did not make top spot despite 17.1 million views
Oprah Winfrey in her interview with Megan Markle and Harry (CBS)

Oprah Winfrey’s bombshell interview on CBS with former Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Harry and Meghan Markle was watching by a whopping audience of over 17 million viewers. Still, the interview fell short by a massive margin to the TV personality's most-watched interview, which had happened all the way in 1993 with the late King of Pop - Michael Jackson. 

Oprah Winfrey's most-watched interview

Although the interview with Meghan and Harry was a major rating boost for CBS, with the network paying roughly $8 million for the rights to the program and selling 30-second commercials at a rate of $325,000. It was the 1993 tell-all with the pop star that has continued to be the most-watched interview of Oprah's illustrious career. The 90-minute sit-down with Jackson was viewed by an audience of 62 million viewers who tuned in to ABC. This, during an era when broadcast networks faced most of their competition from cable TV only, was beyond commendable as it was available around 60 percent of US households.

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Meghan-Harry interview ratings

An average of 17.1 million viewers watched the two-hour special telecast that aired on March 7 from 8 to 10 pm on both coasts, reveals Nielsen. Considering CBS sold 30-second commercials at a rate of $325,000, the viewership is a whopping success for the network. The interview titled 'Oprah With Meghan and Harry' also topped Diane Sawyer’s exclusive with Caitlyn Jenner in 2015, where the former Olympic gold medallist came out as a transgender woman. The April 24, 2015 interview was watched by 16.9 million viewers, once again on ABC.

Meghan-Harry's interview response

Considering we live in a time where streaming platforms and giants are the go-to source of entertainment, that CBS could still fetch over 17 million views is worth applauding. Outside of sporting events, appointment viewings have seen a drastic change with younger viewers complaining on social media about having to sit through advertisements and commercials. 

Oprah Winfrey interviews Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on A CBS Primetime Special premiering on CBS on March 7, 2021. (Getty Images)

However, a lot of people complained about the delay in air time between the US and the UK. The interview aired in the UK on Monday, March 8, a whole day after its US air time as running it across all time zones at once would have required CBS affiliates in West US to preempt their local newscasts. This would have been a major snub on ad revenue, but would have ultimately had little effect on the national rating for the program.

Oprah dubbed 'best interviewer'

Oprah's skilled expertise at follow-up questions also won over hearts with some labeling it a masterclass in journalism, while others dubbed her the 'best interviewer ever' purely for the way she listens and never rushes with her interviewees. Her phenomenal pause and signature shocked reaction where she just asked "What?" when Meghan told of the Royals' concerns surrounding a then-unborn Archie's skin color has resonated with many. When she stressed on digging up who made the remarks, both Harry and Meghan refrained from taking names as it would be too damaging to the British monarchy. The former Senior Royals, however, requested the host reveal that neither Queen Elizabeth II nor Prince Philip made the comments. 

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