In 2015, around 17 million people logged in when Caitlyn Jenner revealed to Ms. Sawyer on ABC’s “20/20” that she was transgender. Ms Winfrey’s interview with Ms Markle and Prince Harry matched that figure, but fell short of the 22 million people who watched the ’60 Minutes’ episode of 2018 in which Stephanie Clifford (also known as by Stormy Daniels) told Anderson Cooper about his past affair with Donald J. Trump. When Mr. Trump sat down for a controversial “60-minute” interview with Lesley Stahl in the run-up to the 2020 election, 17.4 million people listened.
Ms Winfrey’s interview with Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, was unusual in that it was not overseen by a news division of the network. Ms. Winfrey’s company Harpo Productions produced the special, and CBS paid at least $ 7 million for the license, according to a person familiar with the arrangement. (The Wall Street Journal previously reported the figure.)
The deal was also a gamble: it was recorded after the network bought the rights, according to two people who knew how the show was made. During the interview, Ms Winfrey said she had been trying to land an exclusive with the couple for about three years.
CBS became the winning bidder despite Ms. Winfrey’s difficult experience at “60 Minutes,” where she was a special contributor in 2017 and 2018. In a 2019 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Ms. Winfrey revealed that the producers of the show had criticized her delivery, saying she had “too much emotion” in her voice, even when she said her own name. (Ms Winfrey maintained a connection to CBS through her good friend Gayle King, a “CBS This Morning” presenter, and she appeared on that show on Monday.)
The thicket of media companies surrounding Ms Winfrey and the former royal couple further complicated CBS ‘attempt to hit the jackpot. Ms. Winfrey has her own cable network, OWN, and is an important part of the AppleTV + streaming platform. Recent episodes of Apple’s “The Oprah Conversation” featured her interviews with Barack Obama, Dolly Parton and Mariah Carey.
Ms Markle and Prince Harry, for their part, struck a deal with Netflix, a deal they signed last year, months after announcing they would step down from royal duties. They also have an agreement to create podcasts for Spotify.
The pact between CBS and Harpo Productions was largely focused on television rights. The interview was broadcast live on ViacomCBS ‘newly renamed streaming service, Paramount +; but at least for now, it won’t be available on Paramount + for on-demand viewing. Instead, the special will be available on CBS.com and the CBS app for 30 days, a CBS spokesperson said.