Sunday night’s Oprah with Meghan and Harry: A CBS Primetime Special was watched by 17.1 million viewers in early numbers, and scored well in the key demographic of adults aged 18-49.
More Americans tuned in than for September’s Emmy Awards and last week’s Golden Globes combined, Deadline reports.
Total viewership will rise as adjusted data and other viewing metrics are delivered in the coming days.
The Meghan and Harry interview will be screened in the UK on Monday night.
In terms of similar landmark interviews, the special looks set to beat Diane Sawyer’s 2015 interview with then transitioning Bruce Jenner in terms of final numbers.
CBS has had a strong start to the year in terms of ratings, having also broadcast the Super Bowl which attracted 96.4 million viewers.
So far in 2021, the only non-sport TV show that tops the interview with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex is the debut of The Equalizer starring Queen Latifah which followed the Super Bowl benefitting from the carryover audience.
The Golden Globes ceremony, a largely virtual affair broadcast simultaneously from the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles and the Rainbow Room at Rockefeller Centre in New York, was a ratings low for NBC, drawing only 5.4 million viewers.
Last year’s Emmys ceremony, also predominantly virtual, saw only 6.1 million people tune into ABC.
The Oscars, also on ABC, are scheduled for Sunday 25 April, two months later than usual, but will reportedly see a return to an in-person format for the awards ceremony.
In 2020, 23.6 million people tuned in to watch — an all-time low after a better-than-expected audience in 2019.