World viewership of royals' interview nearly 50 million

A man watches a phone screen showing an interview of Prince Harry and Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, by Oprah Winfrey, in London Monday, March 8, 2021. (Aaron Chown/PA via AP)

NEW YORK – Worldwide viewership of Oprah Winfrey's interview with British royals Prince Harry and Meghan is up to nearly 50 million people — and counting — as CBS quickly scheduled a Friday night rerun for anyone who missed it the first time.

The estimate of 49.1 million viewers in 17 countries is sure to rise. Not all of the ratings are in, and CBS licensed the interview to air in more than 80 territories, the network said.

In the United States, the interview was seen by 17.8 million people on CBS, the Nielsen company said. It aired a night later in Britain, where ITV said it had 13.3 million viewers, a huge number for a smaller country.

CBS said the interview will be shown again Friday, from 8 to 10 p.m.

It was still a topic of conversation on Tuesday. In Britain, former CNN personality Piers Morgan quit the “Good Morning, Britain” program following a furor over comments he made criticizing the Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex. He was dressed down by the show's weather forecaster and stormed off the set.

Winfrey's talk was the rare interview to exceed the hype. CBS had originally set aside 90 minutes for the broadcast but, after the interview actually took place, bumped it up to two hours.

The success is likely to have reverberations for the industry, perhaps most immediately bolstering broadcast television's case that it is still a potent force for showing big events.

It might also have networks looking for more big-name interviews. They used to be a staple of prime-time broadcast television, but are seen much less frequently now. Some of the big names that used to chase such interviews, like Diane Sawyer and Barbara Walters, have stepped away from the business.

Powered by Winfrey and royals, CBS won the week with an average of 6 million viewers in prime time. ABC had 3.5 million, NBC had 3.2 million, Fox had 2.5 million, Univision had 1.3 million, Ion Television had 1.1 million and Telemundo had 1 million.

Fox News Channel led the cable networks, averaging 2.37 million viewers in prime time. MSNBC had 1.88 million, TNT had 1.41 million, CNN had 1.25 million and HGTV had 1.11 million.

ABC's “World News Tonight” won the evening news ratings race with an average of 9.3 million viewers. NBC's “Nightly News” had 7.5 million and the “CBS Evening News” had 5.5 million.

For the week of March 1-7, the top 20 programs, their networks and viewerships:

1. “Oprah with Meghan & Harry,” CBS, 17.81 million.

2. “60 Minutes,” CBS, 10.04 million.

3. “NCIS,” CBS, 9.61 million.

4. “The Voice” (Monday), NBC, 7.9 million.

5. “Young Sheldon,” CBS, 7.71 million.

6. “FBI,” CBS, 7.37 million.

7. “911,” Fox, 6.41 million.

8. “The Voice” (Tuesday), NBC, 6.36 million.

9. “Blue Bloods,” CBS, 6.3 million.

10. “Equalizer,” CBS, 5.87 million.

11. “FBI: Most Wanted,” CBS, 5.74 million.

12. “Celebrity Wheel of Fortune,” ABC, 5.72 million.

13. “Magnum, P.I.,” CBS, 5.63 million.

14. “America's Funniest Home Videos,” ABC, 5.59 million.

15. “911: Lone Star,” Fox, 5.34 million.

16. “American Idol,” ABC, 5.29 million.

17. “Mom,” CBS, 5.28 million.

18. “B Positive,” CBS, 5.07 million.

19. “The Bachelor,” ABC, 4.74 million.

20. NBA Basketball: NBA All-Star Game, TNT, 4.67 million.