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Oprah Winfrey’s explosive interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle drew a huge audience to CBS this Sunday evening, attracting approximately 17.18 million viewers throughout its two-hour broadcast and a 1.45 rating in the adults, aged 18-49 key demographic.
Compared with last Sunday night’s 78th Golden Globe Awards, which garnered a bleak 6.9 million viewers and a 1.5 rating among the key demo, TV watchers showed up in droves for (technically) ex-British royalty over Hollywood royalty. The sit-down in an estate’s green and flourishing patio, was anything but casual as Oprah showcased the strongest aspects of her journalistic chops and grilled the Duke and Duchess of Sussex with a slew of follow-up questions that led to surprising (and, occasionally disturbing) revelations of what went down behind the scenes in the palace’s walls, per the couple. This was CBS’s most live-streamed event outside of the NFL and Super Bowl Sunday this 2020-2021 season.
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A source with knowledge of the topic confirmed to Variety that, out of 44 markets, the top 10 TV households that tuned into CBS to catch the buzzy interview were located in Hartford and New Haven, New York, Minneapolis-St. Paul, San Francisco-Oak-San Jose, Providence-New Bedford, St. Louis, Boston (Manchester), Baltimore, Philadelphia and Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport.
The Harry and Meghan special drove 12 billion potential social media impressions, drawing the largest primetime audience since the Academy Awards on February 9, 2020, and for any entertainment special during the 2020-2021 season (in Nielsen fast national ratings for March 7). In the week leading up to the event, chatter about the potentially revelatory conversation drove 28.8 billion potential impressions per a statement released by CBS. The special dominated the night on Twitter, with Meghan trending within the top 10 in the United States for 12 hours. Moreover, the hashtags and names #OprahMeghanHarry, Archie, Kate, Charles, Diana, William and Royal all trended within the top 10 last night.
According to Nielsen Live+Same Day fast affiliate-based rankings, CBS’s “60 Minutes” at 7 p.m. was the second most-watched broadcast during the evening based on both ratings sorted by the 18-49 demographic and ratings sorted by total viewers. The long-running televised newsmagazine delivered 9.79 million viewers and drew a 0.8 rating, up significantly by 20.49% and 25%, respectively, compared with last week’s episode. “60 Minutes'” performance, which is usually one of the primetime frontrunners on any given Sunday night, was likely further bolstered by the interview’s premiere in the subsequent hour-long window. CBS ended the night strong with an encore episode of “The Equalizer” series reboot starring Queen Latifah at 10 p.m., which drew a 0.7 rating and 5.68 million viewers, positioning the show squarely in third place for ratings sorted by total viewers and in fourth for ratings sorted by the 18-49 demographic.
Additionally, The CW forewent its usual Sunday slate of “Batwoman” and “Charmed” to air the “26th Annual Critic’s Choice Awards” at 8 p.m., hosted by Broadway superstar and singer Taye Diggs for his third year in a row. The in-person/virtual hybrid ceremony obtained a mere 0.1 rating in the key demo and 0.34 million viewers (evidencing yet again that more eyes and ears were fixated on the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s shocking revelations than on celebrating celebrities).
NBC aired the season four premiere of crime dramedy “Good Girls,” created by Jenna Bans and headlined by Christina Hendricks, Mae Whitman and Ruby Hill. During its 10 p.m. airtime window, the show scored a 0.4 in the key demo— a substantial increase of 5.26% compared to season three’s debut night —and about 1.63 million viewers. Leading up to that first Season 4 episode, NBC ran a rerun of “The Voice” at 7 p.m. and a new episode of “Ellen’s Game of Games” at 9 p.m. (0.3, 1.45).
Elsewhere on television, ABC ran new episodes of “America’s Funniest Home Videos” at 7 p.m. (0.6, 5.33), “American Idol” at 8 p.m. (0.8, 5.16) and “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” at 10 p.m. (0.4, 2.95). Fox ran new episodes of “Cherries Wild” at 7 p.m. (0.3, 1.32), “Bless the Harts” at 7:30 p.m. (0.3, 0.83), “The Simpsons” at 8 p.m. (0.4, 1.31) and Bob’s Burgers at 9 p.m. (0.5, 1.16). Furthermore, Fox ran reruns of the Molyneux sisters’ latest animated sitcom “The Great North” at 8:30 p.m.
Over on the Spanish language giants, Univision aired a new episode of “Aquí y Ahora” at 7 p.m. (0.2, 0.82), followed by a special airing of Joe Menendez’s “Ladrones” from 8 to 10 p.m (0.2, 0.63). To end the night, Univision ran the Liga MX match between Pumas UNAM and Cruz Azul, which ended with a last-minute penalty kick from Uruguayan soccer player Jonathan “Cabecita” Rodríguez scoring the game-winning goal (0.1, 0.46). Throughout the evening, Telemundo ran a new episode of the athletic skill and endurance competition series “Exatlón Estados Unidos” (0.3, 0.98) at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. (0.4, 1.23), as well as a special airing of “Poseidon,” starring Josh Lucas, Kurt Russell and Emmy Rossum at 9 p.m. through the end of the night (0.3, 0.86).
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