The broadcast at 9pm on ITV attracted a total audience of 11.4 million – 54.4 per cent of all television viewers in the UK.
Some 12.4 million people were watching the interview at its peak, and the two-hour interview had an average of 11.1 million viewers during the 9pm-11pm slot.
And 2.2 million viewers streamed the programme live on the ITV Hub.
But it failed to beat the average viewing figures for I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here!, which was ITV’s most watched programme of 2020.
During the lockdown in December some 12.1 million viewers watched Giovanna Fletcher as she was crowned series champion.
The interview was also beaten in the ratings war by the Prime Minister’s lockdown addresses last year, and the Queen’s message to the nation last April, both of which amassed more than 14 million views.
The couple’s wedding in May 2018 drew in a peak audience of 27.7 million in the UK.
A staggering 12.3 million people were watching the interview at its peak last night
The wide-ranging two-hour special covered Meghan’s thoughts of suicide during her first pregnancy and claims of racism within the royal family
Harry and Meghan: How the viewing figures compare
2021: Harry and Meghan with Oprah Winfrey, March 8 (ITV) 11.4 million
2020: Boris Johnson lockdown announcement, March 23 (BBC One) 14.6 million
Queen’s address to the nation, April 5 (BBC One) 14 million
Boris Johnson’s second address to the nation, May 10 (BBC One) 18.8 million
I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here!, December 4 (ITV) 12.1 million
2019: Gavin And Stacey Christmas special (BBC One) 17.1 million viewers
2012: Closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games (BBC One) 24.5 million
The Prime Minister’s speech was simultaneously broadcast across six television channels: BBC One, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, Sky News and BBC News.
On BBC One, the speech attracted 14.6 million viewers, but combined with the ratings across all six channels, the speech had a total TV audience averaging 28.2 million.
The Queen’s televised address to the nation on April 5, during which she echoed Dame Vera Lynn’s wartime song and told the nation ‘we will meet again’, had a combined TV audience across seven channels of 24.3 million.
Mr Johnson’s second TV address delivered on May 10, during which he announced an initial easing of the lockdown in England, pulled in a combined audience of 27.6 million.
A massive 18.8 million TV viewers saw this second speech on BBC One alone.
The Gavin And Stacey Christmas special – the most-watched programme of 2019 – pulled in a TV audience of 17.1 million viewers.
The biggest audience in the past decade for any broadcast on a single channel was 24.5 million, which was the number who watched the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games.
But excluding news and sport events, the biggest TV audience of the past decade was 17.7 million, set by an edition of The X Factor back in December 2010.
Figures quoted here are consolidated ratings, meaning they include people who recorded and watched a broadcast up to seven days later – the industry standard for measuring TV audiences.
The 1966 World Cup final is often cited as the most-watched broadcast in British history, with 32.3 million viewers, just ahead of Princess Diana’s funeral in 1997, but the method of calculating ratings has changed several times, meaning it is difficult to make like-for-like comparisons.
A family gather around the TV in Liverpool to watch Prince Harry and his wife Meghan’s explosive interview on ITV
Advertising revenue during the 110-minute programme could double the £1million ITV paid for it.
ITV is thought to have sold some 30-second slots for as much as £120,000, double its usual rate, with others going for £70,000 to £100,000.
The current record for audience figures in the US is 90million – set when Oprah sat down with Michael Jackson in 1993.
It became the second most watched non-sports entertainment program in the US so far this year, behind the February premiere of Queen Latifah’s new drama, The Equalizer, which aired after the Super Bowl and pulled 20.4 million viewers.
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