Prince Harry and Meghan’s bombshell interview with US chat show legend Oprah Winfrey drew the biggest ratings for any program on Australian TV in 2021 so far – and it nearly beat their own wedding for popularity.
The two-hour CBS-hosted interview, Oprah with Meghan and Harry, peaked at 2.08 million viewers on Channel Ten in Australia – easily beating the number of Australians who watched Martin Bashir’s infamous 1995 BBC sit-down with Harry’s tragic mother, Princess Diana.
While Monday’s interview topped the magic two million mark at its highest point – rarely beaten by non-sporting programs – it trailed off to average at a combined national average of 1.783 million viewers across metropolitan and rural areas.
Oprah with Meghan and Harry contained several controversial revelations, most notably about claims of racism, from questioning about the likely skin pigmentation of her their son, Archie
Harry and Meghan with Oprah: how it rated in Australia
How did it compare with other major and recent Australian TV events?
- Oprah with Meghan and Harry: 1.78million* viewers
- Married at First Sight (Sunday) 1.07 million
- ABC Four Corners (Christian Porter rape allegations) 891,000
- Martin Bashir Panorama interview with Princess Diana (1995) 1.53 million
- Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle 1.99 million
- Australian Tennis Open (men’s final) 1.17 million
- Married at First Sight (2020 finale) 1.56 million
- The Block (2020 finale) 1.83 million
- 2020 Midnight Fireworks 1.62 million
- 2020 Melbourne Cup 1.86 million
- 2020 AFL Grand Final 3.01 million
- 2020 NRL Grand Final 2.11 million
Across the five capital cities the interview attracted 1.366 million viewers.
The two-hour show trounced Sunday’s Married at First Sight – by far the biggest reality show on TV at present – across the capitals by more than 400,000 viewers.
It also beat the most popular show of the year so far on Australian television – the Australian Open men’s tennis final, which drew 1.173 million viewers, and the 2020 midnight fireworks, which drew 1.628 million people.
The special also beat TV ratings for several showcase sporting events in recent years – including Australia’s 2018 World Cup soccer matches, State of Origin rugby league matches and most cricket and tennis matches, and even some Olympic events.
The 2016 Rio Olympic Games Opening Ceremony attracted only 1.61 million viewers.
But you don’t have to go back far to find bigger ratings – the finale for the 16th season of reality show The Block, last November, drew 1.83 million.
And the AFL Grand Final – very often the biggest Australian show of the year – cracked three million in 2020.
Last October, Ten also scored a ratings win with the Melbourne Cup, which drew a national audience of 1.86 million.
Big sporting events and to a lesser extent, reality TV, tends to dominate Australian TV ratings.
But Harry and Meghan’s TV ratings are still welcome news for Ten, which is rumoured to have spent $400,000 securing the rights to air the interview.
Prince Harry’s mother, Princess Diana, is seen during her infamous 1995 interview with Martin Bashir on the BBC’s Panorama program
Oprah with Meghan and Harry rated well with Australian TV audiences on Monday, drawing 1.783 million viewers – just shy of the 1.86 million the Melbourne Cup attracted
The interview also won the night across metropolitan areas, delivering Ten 29.9 per cent of the total audience, ahead of Nine which had 26.9 per cent and Seven, which had 20.9 per cent.
Among the many bombshell claims in the tell-all interview was that a member of the royal family enquired about how ‘dark’ their first-born son’s skin would be.
Prince Harry also claimed racism drove him and Meghan out of Britain and the Queen was too busy to meet him as he piled on new insults to his family in a series of unseen clips from his bombshell Oprah Winfrey interview.
Said to be most damaging are the couple’s claims that not only were they unsupported by both family members and staff, but they also suffered as a result of an apparent racist agenda against them.
Meghan and Harry accused an unnamed member of the Royal Family of racism during their interview with Oprah Winfrey
Just under two million Australians watched the televised marriage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in 2018
Meghan suggested that race was the heart of every decision made against them.
But there was bemusement among royal insiders at her claims that senior royals had tried to prevent their son, Archie, from having a title – or security – because of blatant prejudice.
‘They didn’t want him to be a prince,’ she told Miss Winfrey.
Long-standing rules, laid down by George V, mean that the title of HRH passes only to the children of a sovereign and their grandchildren through the male line, meaning Archie will only be given a title when his grandfather, Prince Charles, accedes to the throne.
Sport tends to reign supreme on Australian TV, even when audiences fall. The 2019 NRL Grand Final between the Sydney Roosters and the Canberra Raiders attracted 1.86 million viewers, which was low for a Grand Final