PMG Digital Made for Humans

Oprah Interview Turns Cultural Moment

3 MINUTE READ | March 9, 2021

Oprah Interview Turns Cultural Moment

Author's headshot

Abby Long

Abby is PMG’s senior managing editor, where she leads the company’s editorial program and manages the PMG Blog and Insights Hub. As a writer, editor, and marketing communications strategist with nearly a decade of experience, Abby's work in showcasing PMG’s unique expertise through POVs, research reports, and thought leadership regularly informs business strategy and media investments for some of the most iconic brands in the world. Named among the AAF Dallas 32 Under 32, her expertise in advertising, media strategy, and consumer trends has been featured in Ad Age, Business Insider, and Digiday.

Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Prince Harry and Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle aired Sunday night, drawing more than 17.1 million viewers on CBS, according to Nielsen’s preliminary figures, with the media company booking an estimated $20 million in ads for the interview. Millions more streamed the special, with many viewers around the world utilizing VPNs to access the interview as it aired in the U.S. The events revealed in the interview have sparked new discussions on race and mental health, consuming public conversation and setting the news agenda for the week ahead. George Cheeks, the CBS Entertainment Group CEO, wrote a memo on Monday to staff saying, 

[Sunday] night, the vitality and power of CBS and broadcast television was on display in a big way,” continuing on to say “[the interview] was the largest primetime audience for any entertainment special during the current 2020-2021 season and it dominated social media by every measure.” Cheeks noted that “the initial 17.1 million figure for the Oprah special will continue to grow in the days ahead.” 

After the interview aired in the U.K. on Monday, a new wave of coverage and public interest dominated the social internet and the front page of nearly every publication. “Meghan” and “Oprah” have remained trending on Twitter since Sunday, with the CBS app rising to the top of the Apple App Store where the interview is available on-demand. As of Tuesday morning, Buckingham Palace has yet to comment on the claims made by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, driving even more buzz and speculation. 

TV insiders and analysts report that the interview demonstrates just how confusing the streaming era has become for people as they navigate how, when, and where to watch an interview when they don’t catch it live. According to The Wall Street Journal, CBS licensed the interview from Oprah Winfrey’s production company Harpo Productions for over $7 million, and while the interview appeared live on ViacomCBS’ new Paramount+ streaming service Sunday night, it’s unclear “where it will live permanently.”

Stay in touch

Bringing news to you

Subscribe to our newsletter

By clicking and subscribing, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy

Paramount+ launched just last Thursday as the latest entrant to the competitive streaming landscape, though Variety reports that Paramount+ doesn’t hold the streaming rights to the special, Harpo Productions does. To complicate matters further, the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) is majority-owned by Discovery (with a 95 percent stake), which has its own streaming service Discovery+. As the media rights conversation continues to unfold, for now, viewers can see the interview on the CBS app and for free for the next 30 days.

Related Content

thumbnail image

Consumer TrendsStreaming & VideoPlatforms & Media

Peacock, Paywalls, and A Labyrinth of Programming at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games

6 MINUTES READ | August 12, 2021

thumbnail image

Consumer TrendsStreaming & VideoStrategyPlatforms & Media

NBCUniversal Preps Wall-to-Wall Coverage of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

6 MINUTES READ | July 21, 2021

thumbnail image

Social MediaStreaming & VideoPlatforms & MediaConsumer Trends

The Year of Streaming, and the Decline of Communal Experiences

7 MINUTES READ | March 17, 2021

thumbnail image

Consumer TrendsDigital MarketingPlatforms & MediaStrategy

Hindsight 2020 & Looking Ahead to 2021

8 MINUTES READ | December 16, 2020