In 2015, about 17 million people joined when Caitlin Jenner revealed to Ms. Sawyer in ABC’s 20/20 that she was transgender. Ms. Winfrey’s interview with Ms. Markle and Prince Harry coincides with that figure, but falls short of the 22 million who watched the 2018 “60 Minutes” episode in which Stephanie Clifford (also known as Stormy Daniels) ) tells Anderson Cooper about his past relationship with Donald J. Trump. When Mr. Trump sat in a contested 60-minute interview with Leslie Stahl on the eve of the 2020 election, 17.4 million were in the mood.
Mrs. Winfrey’s interview with Prince Harry and his wife, Megan, was unusual in that it was not overseen by a news network. Ms. Winfrey̵
The deal is also a gamble: it was recorded after the network bought the rights, according to two people who know how the show was made. During the interview, Ms. Winfrey said she had been trying to get along exclusively with the couple for about three years.
CBS came out the winner of the auction despite Ms. Winfrey’s rocky experience in “60 Minutes”, where she was a special contributor in 2017 and 2018. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter in 2019, Ms. Winfrey revealed that the show’s producers have criticized her delivery, saying she has “too much emotion” in her voice, even when she says her own name. (Ms. Winfrey kept in touch with CBS through her good friend Gayle King, host of CBS this morning, and she appeared on that show on Monday.)
Further complicating CBS’s attempt to make a big profit is the dense environment of media companies around Ms. Winfrey and the former royal couple. Ms. Winfrey has her own cable network, OWN, and is a major part of the AppleTV + streaming platform. Recent episodes of Apple’s Oprah Conversation include her interviews with Barack Obama, Dolly Parton and Mariah Carey.
Ms. Markle and Prince Harry, meanwhile, have a deal with Netflix that they signed last year, months after announcing they would step down from their royal duties. They also have an agreement to make podcasts for Spotify.
The pact between CBS and Harpo Productions focused heavily on television rights. The interview starts live with the newly rebranded streaming service of ViacomCBS Paramount +; but at least for now it will not be available on Paramount + for viewing on demand. Instead, the special will be available on CBS.com and the CBS app for 30 days, a CBS spokesman said.