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Prince Harry, Meghan Markle a ratings coup for CBS; finances under scrutiny

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Yahoo Finance's Alexandra Canal breaks down the key takeaways from Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's sit-down with Oprah Winfrey.

Video Transcript

JEN ROGERS: Last night was this moment, I felt, kind of like old times, where people all around the country came together and watched TV at the same time. How many people did it?

ALEXANDRA CANAL: Oh, my God. Jen, I was watching this, too, jaw on the floor the entire night. I went on my Twitter feed. It's all anyone was talking about. I had group texts with family members, friends. Everyone was watching this interview. And according to early numbers from Nielsen, the special, "Prince Harry and Meghan Markle with Oprah," brought in over 17 million viewers. It also earned a 2.6 rating in that key demographic of US adults aged 18 to 49.

Now that makes it one of the biggest shows to air within the 2020 to 2021 TV season. In fact, if you put the Golden Globes and the Emmys combined, it still would not amount to the amount of people that tuned in to this show. The only other show to have beat this special in terms of ratings was the post-Super Bowl premiere of Queen Latifah's "The Equalizer." That nabbed over 20 million viewers when that debuted.

I personally was surprised that this did not get over that 20 million viewer mark. But still, very, very big numbers for CBS. I expect that we're going to continue to see those numbers increase as we get different types of viewing metrics trickle in over the next several days. But so far, so good for CBS. Certainly worth the investment for them to air this show.

They reportedly paid Oprah Winfrey's production company between $7 and $9 million for the licensing rights. That's according to the "Wall Street Journal." So a lot of money thrown around, but it was made very clear--

ADAM SHAPIRO: Yeah, but Alex?

ALEXANDRA CANAL: --in that interview that Meghan Markle and Harry were not paid.

ADAM SHAPIRO: They were not paid. And I guess the Brits are just getting to watch it as we are now talking, because they had not seen it yet. But what kind of reaction is it expected to get in, you know, the land of Her Majesty?

ALEXANDRA CANAL: It's very polarizing, right? I think over here in America, people felt very sympathetic for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. There was a ton of support online for Meghan Markle. A lot of her celebrity friends came out and just expressed how great of a person she is.

But over in the UK, it's a very different reaction. They are very protective over the monarchy, over the reputation of the Queen. And it's night and day when it comes to that reaction. They think that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle should not have given this interview. They think it's painting the palace in a very dark light, which, honestly, it is. It was very shocking for a lot of people to watch this.

On the side of Prince Harry, we saw that he said he stopped-- his father, actually, Prince Charles, stopped calling him back, stopped picking up his phone calls. He also said that there's some space between him and William right now. So it's very clear that there's a bit of a separation here with Harry and the rest of the Royal Family.

There was just bombshell after bombshell. You saw in that clip, there were conversations, concerns over the color of Archie's skin. Meghan Markle said she was suicidal. I mean, for you guys, I'm curious, what did you think was the biggest headline that came from this? Because, honestly, there was just so many, too many to count.

ADAM SHAPIRO: Jen, you first.

JEN ROGERS: Oh, my gosh. I don't know. I'm going to go with the suicidal--

- Great question.

JEN ROGERS: --one. It was so-- the whole thing. I don't know. Adam, what about you?

ADAM SHAPIRO: I'm going to be-- listen, I think it was great. But when they talked about, you know, just getting back to a basic kind of life, they live in a mansion. They have rescue chickens. How many people got rescue chickens? I don't know about the basic, you know, kind of life.

ALEXANDRA CANAL: The rescue chickens-- but I will say, they are completely financially independent. They were cut off from both funds that Royals normally have, both the Duchy of Cornwall and the Sovereign Grant. They are basically living off the inheritance of the late Princess Diana, which is around $10 million.

And right now, they have a couple of deals in the works. One is a five-year deal with Netflix. That's been reported to be up to $100 million. They also signed a three-year deal with Spotify. That's reportedly between $15 and $18 million.

And Prince Harry said last night that he's really doing these deals in order to pay for the security of his family. And if he did not have that inheritance from Princess Diana, he would not have been able to actually leave the Royal Family, because he simply would not be able to afford the protection that he needed. And at a certain point, sometime in the beginning of 2020, after they made that announcement, they did pull that security for him. And his ultimate concern as a father, as a husband, was to keep his family safe.